Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 08/01/2014
Format: 08/01/2014
Glenn H. Hall v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. and Insurance Company of The State of Pennsylvania
01S01-9510-CH-00175
Authoring Judge: Ben H. Cantrell, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Robert E. Corlew, III,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court awarded the employee, Glenn Hall, workers' compensation benefits for the total loss of hearing in his left ear. On appeal the employer asserts that the employee failed to notify the employer of the injury as required by the workers' compensation statute. We affirm the trial court's finding that the proper notice was given. I. Mr. Hall testified that on June 22, 1993 his left ear began hurting after an explosion occurred in the department where he worked. Explosions are not uncommon in that department, and Mr. Hall customarily wore ear plugs to protect his ears from the noise. At the time of the accident, however, Mr. Hall had removed the ear plugs because he was shutting down the process to investigate a problem. Mr. Hall told a co-worker that his ear was hurting and went to see his supervisor. He told the supervisor that his ear hurt, and the supervisor referred Mr. Hall to the company nurse. The company nurse was not called to testify but the forms generated by Mr. Hall's visit to the nurse were introduced as business records. The records show that Mr. Hall had an inner ear infection, was out of the antibiotic he had been taking, and was referred to the company doctor. The records do not reflect that Mr. Hall claimed his ear problems were work-related. Neither do the doctor's notes from that same day reflect that Mr. Hall was claiming a work-related injury. Mr. Hall, however, - 2 -
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 06/20/96
Glenn H. Hall v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. and Insurance Company of The State of Pennsylvania
01S01-9510-CH-00175
Authoring Judge: Ben H. Cantrell, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Robert E. Corlew, III,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court awarded the employee, Glenn Hall, workers' compensation benefits for the total loss of hearing in his left ear. On appeal the employer asserts that the employee failed to notify the employer of the injury as required by the workers' compensation statute. We affirm the trial court's finding that the proper notice was given. I. Mr. Hall testified that on June 22, 1993 his left ear began hurting after an explosion occurred in the department where he worked. Explosions are not uncommon in that department, and Mr. Hall customarily wore ear plugs to protect his ears from the noise. At the time of the accident, however, Mr. Hall had removed the ear plugs because he was shutting down the process to investigate a problem. Mr. Hall told a co-worker that his ear was hurting and went to see his supervisor. He told the supervisor that his ear hurt, and the supervisor referred Mr. Hall to the company nurse. The company nurse was not called to testify but the forms generated by Mr. Hall's visit to the nurse were introduced as business records. The records show that Mr. Hall had an inner ear infection, was out of the antibiotic he had been taking, and was referred to the company doctor. The records do not reflect that Mr. Hall claimed his ear problems were work-related. Neither do the doctor's notes from that same day reflect that Mr. Hall was claiming a work-related injury. Mr. Hall, however, - 2 -
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 06/20/96
Eunice Irene Freeman v. Sportswear and Associates and Liberty Mutual Insurance
01S01-9511-CV-00193
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Bobby Capers,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special 1 Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial judge found the plaintiff had suffered a 65% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole and entered judgment accordingly. The issues raised by the defendant are: 1) Whether the proof preponderates against the trial court's judgment as excessive. 2) Whether the trial court erred in holding that the plaintiff's award was not limited to two and a half times the medical impairment rating. 3) Whether the trial court erred in awarding the plaintiff a lump sum payment. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed. There is no dispute that the plaintiff, who is 58 years of age, with a high school education, whose primary job was as a sewing machine operator, was injured in an industrial accident. Further, there is no dispute that the plaintiff sustained a permanent vocational impairment to the body as a whole. The plaintiff submitted the only medical evidence in this case. The physician testified that the plaintiff had sustained a 17% permanent medical impairment to the body as a whole. The plaintiff, her husband and a co-worker testified concerning the plaintiff's condition subsequent to the injury. Each of these witnesses testified to the limitations of the plaintiff's ability to perform work as a result of her injuries. Without question the plaintiff sustained a significant injury in this accident. The trial judge saw and heard the witnesses who testified in court and credited their testimony. Credibility of these witnesses is for the trial judge to find, and we do not, and can not, reweigh the credibility on appeal. On appeal, we review the judgment of the trial court with a presumption of correctness. TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). We are required, however, to 2
Macon County Workers Compensation Panel 06/20/96
Eunice Irene Freeman v. Sportswear and Associates and Liberty Mutual Insurance
01S01-9511-CV-00193
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Bobby Capers,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special 1 Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial judge found the plaintiff had suffered a 65% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole and entered judgment accordingly. The issues raised by the defendant are: 1) Whether the proof preponderates against the trial court's judgment as excessive. 2) Whether the trial court erred in holding that the plaintiff's award was not limited to two and a half times the medical impairment rating. 3) Whether the trial court erred in awarding the plaintiff a lump sum payment. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed. There is no dispute that the plaintiff, who is 58 years of age, with a high school education, whose primary job was as a sewing machine operator, was injured in an industrial accident. Further, there is no dispute that the plaintiff sustained a permanent vocational impairment to the body as a whole. The plaintiff submitted the only medical evidence in this case. The physician testified that the plaintiff had sustained a 17% permanent medical impairment to the body as a whole. The plaintiff, her husband and a co-worker testified concerning the plaintiff's condition subsequent to the injury. Each of these witnesses testified to the limitations of the plaintiff's ability to perform work as a result of her injuries. Without question the plaintiff sustained a significant injury in this accident. The trial judge saw and heard the witnesses who testified in court and credited their testimony. Credibility of these witnesses is for the trial judge to find, and we do not, and can not, reweigh the credibility on appeal. On appeal, we review the judgment of the trial court with a presumption of correctness. TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). We are required, however, to 2
Macon County Workers Compensation Panel 06/20/96
Betty Jo Cleghorn v. Suburban Home Health, Inc.
01S01-9510-CH-00178
Authoring Judge: John K. Byers, Senior Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Claudia C. Bonnyman
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special 1 Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court held that the plaintiff had not met her burden of proving that she sustained a permanent vocational disability as a result of her work-related injury. Plaintiff appeals, asserting that the evidence does not support the trial court's judgment. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. No transcript of the evidence was filed. The evidence available for our review consists of the medical depositions offered in the trial court and their attendant exhibits. The medical evidence, taken as a whole, supports the judgment of the trial court. Our standard of review is de novo on the record accompanied by the presumption that the findings of fact by the trial court are correct. TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(2) Where no transcript of the evidence is filed, the appellate courts will conclusively presume that every fact admissible under the pleadings was found in favor of the appellee. Wilson v. Hafley, 189 Tenn. 598, 226 S.W.2d 38, 311 (1949); Hollingsworth v. Safeco Ins. Cos., 782 S.W.2d 477, 479 (Tenn. App. 1989). Upon the record in this case, we can only find that the evidence does not preponderate against the judgment of the trial court. We affirm the judgment and the costs are taxed to the plaintiff/appellant. We remand the case to the trial court. John K. Byers, Senior Judge CONCUR: 2
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 06/20/96
Betty Jo Cleghorn v. Suburban Home Health, Inc.
01S01-9510-CH-00178
Authoring Judge: John K. Byers, Senior Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon.Claudia C. Bonnyman,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special 1 Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court held that the plaintiff had not met her burden of proving that she sustained a permanent vocational disability as a result of her work-related injury. Plaintiff appeals, asserting that the evidence does not support the trial court's judgment. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. No transcript of the evidence was filed. The evidence available for our review consists of the medical depositions offered in the trial court and their attendant exhibits. The medical evidence, taken as a whole, supports the judgment of the trial court. Our standard of review is de novo on the record accompanied by the presumption that the findings of fact by the trial court are correct. TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(2) Where no transcript of the evidence is filed, the appellate courts will conclusively presume that every fact admissible under the pleadings was found in favor of the appellee. Wilson v. Hafley, 189 Tenn. 598, 226 S.W.2d 38, 311 (1949); Hollingsworth v. Safeco Ins. Cos., 782 S.W.2d 477, 479 (Tenn. App. 1989). Upon the record in this case, we can only find that the evidence does not preponderate against the judgment of the trial court. We affirm the judgment and the costs are taxed to the plaintiff/appellant. We remand the case to the trial court. John K. Byers, Senior Judge CONCUR: 2
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 06/20/96
Beecher Kent Bilbrey v. Roadway Express, Inc.
01S01-9511-CH-00215
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Vernon Neal,
This case is before the Court upon the entire record, including the order of referral to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel, and the Panel's Memorandum Opinion setting forth its findings of fact and conclusions of law, which are incorporated herein by reference...
Putnam County Workers Compensation Panel 06/20/96
Beecher Kent Bilbrey v. Roadway Express, Inc.
01S01-9511-CH-00215
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Vernon Neal
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Plaintiff, Beecher Kent Bilbrey, has appealed from the action of the trial court in dismissing his claim for benefits because he failed to render proper notice of the claim to defendant, Roadway Express, Inc. The Chancellor made alternative findings regarding all other aspects of the claim in the event it was determined the notice requirement had been complied with or reasonably excused. Plaintiff is 5 years of age and has a 9th grade education. He was employed as a driver for defendant trucking company. On about June 2, 1993, while at a trucking terminal in Huntsville, Alabama, he testified he injured his back when hooking a set of double trailers. He said he called his dispatcher and told him he had pulled his back but didn't think it was going to be any problem. He told the trial court that upon returning to the Nashville terminal, Robert Anderson, a supervisor, asked him if he had been drinking and would he consent to take a blood alcohol test. He denied having drank anything and consented to take the test. He said he told Anderson he did not want to wait a long period of time to be given the test but left after waiting about 15 minutes. He returned to Cookeville where he went to the hospital emergency room. The record indicates that he returned to the emergency room on about June 3th and saw several doctors during June and July, 1993, concerning his physical condition. Plaintiff testified that shortly after the incident on June 2th he also called Roger Morrison, a relay manager, and told him he had hurt his back, had been to the hospital and wanted to go on sick leave. He said Morrison told him he was terminated for leaving the job. When asked if he had told how he hurt his back, he replied, "No. I didn't like his attitude. He made me mad." Plaintiff testified he knew it was a violation of company policy to leave without taking the blood test after he had agreed to do so. He also acknowledged that he was aware that he would be terminated for this reason. 2
Putnam County Workers Compensation Panel 06/20/96
Ronald H. Anselm v. K-Va-T Food Stores, Inc., Fireman's Fund Insurance Company and Sue Ann Head, Director, Division of Workers' Compensation, Tennessee
03S01-9508-CV-00087
Authoring Judge: William H. Inman, Senior Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. W. Dale Young
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The plaintiff alleged that he sustained an injury to his neck, arms and shoulders during the course of his employment by the K-VA-T Food Stores while performing repetitive actions involving the stocking of food shelves from April 1 to May 19, 1992. He further alleged that these repetitive actions aggravated a prior neck injury. The defendant denied the occurrence of an accidental injury. The plaintiff began working for K-VA-T as a cashier in September, 199. He was 5 years old, and had earned his livelihood driving a truck for most of his adult life. In l987 he was treated for shoulder pain for which, in December 1987, he settled a workers' compensation claim. He suf fered recurring pain in 199 while driving a truck and sought workers' compensation benefits which were awarded in December, 1992. The purported repetitive actions entailed by his most recent job occurred, as heretofore stated, during a six-weeks period in April and May, 1992. The trial judge found that the injuries complained of did not occur during the plaintiff's employment by K-VA-T, and dismissed the complaint. Our review is de novo on the record accompanied by a presumption that the findings of fact of the trial judge are correct unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). Dr. Stephen Wiessfeld was the only medical expert called to testify. He said that based on the history related to him, the plaintiff sustained an aggravation to a pre- existing arthritic condition, but conceded that his opinion was dependent upon an accurate history of repetitive arm and shoulder movements. He found no anatomical changes, but relied upon the representations of his patient. Further evidence revealed that the claimed repetitive actions were not as onerous as claimed, which impelled the trial judge to find that the medical testimony was untrustworthy, and unreliable. The burden to establish each element of a workers' compensation claim is upon the employee claiming benefits. Oster v. Yates, 845 S.W.2d 815 (Tenn. 1992). One
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 06/20/96
Teresa Davis v. Tecumseh Products Company
02S01-9512-CV-00125
Authoring Judge: Cecil Crowson, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Julian P. Guinn,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The only issue is the extent of the claimant's permanent partial disability. The panel concludes that the award of benefits on the basis of forty percent to both arms should be affirmed. The claimant, Teresa Davis, is thirty-five and has a tenth grade education. As noted by the trial judge, she has obvious intellectual limitations and her only working experience is in the field of manual labor. At the time of the trial she had not been able to find employment within her limitations. She gradually developed bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome at work and was referred to Dr. Glenn Barnett, who performed surgical releases on both arms and, when she continued to have pain when attempting to work, referred her to occupational therapy. He assessed her permanent impairment at five percent to each upper extremity. Her attorney referred her to Dr. Joseph Boals, who assessed her permanent impairment at ten percent to each upper extremity based on loss of grip strength following bilateral carpal tunnel release surgery. Dr. Ray Hester opined that she would not be able to perform repetitive work in the future. Other medical evidence confirmed the permanency of her injury. Appellate review is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness of the findings of fact, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6- 225(e)(2). Considerable deference is accorded the trial judge's findings with respect to the credibility of witnesses who testify in person, as well as the weight and value of such testimony. Landers v. Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, 775 S.W.2d 355, 356 (Tenn. 1989). In determining a claimant's permanent industrial disability, the trial court should consider, in addition to the extent of medical impairment, many factors, including job skills, education, age, training, duration of disability and local job opportunities for the disabled. Worthington v. Modine Manufacturing Co., 798 S.W.2d 232, 234 (Tenn. 199). The trial judge expressly found that there are few work opportunities for the claimant in her disabled condition, contrary to the contention of the employer that there are numerous jobs available to her. The evidence fails to preponderate against that finding or the finding that she will retain a permanent impairment of forty percent to both arms. The judgment of the trial court is accordingly affirmed. Costs on appeal are taxed to the defendant-appellant. 2
Henry County Workers Compensation Panel 06/11/96
Teresa Davis v. Tecumseh Products Company
02S01-9512-CV-00125
Authoring Judge: Cecil Crowson, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Julian P. Guinn,
This case is before the Court upon the entire record, including the order of referral to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel, and the Panel's Memorandum Opinion setting forth its findings of fact and conclusions of law, which are incorporated herein by reference.
Henry County Workers Compensation Panel 06/11/96
Reva Pitts v. National Union Fire Insurance Company and Sue Ann Head Director of The Division of Workers' Compensation Tennessee Department of Labor, Second Injury Fund
03S01-9509-CH-00108
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Billy Joe White,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer's insurer, National Union, asserts that the evidence preponderates against the trial court's findings that (1) the claimant's injury was one arising out of her employment, (2) the claimant is permanently and totally disabled , and (3) the claimant gave the required notice to the employer. The Second Injury Fund (the Fund) asserts that the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that (1) the claimant is permanently and totally disabled and (2) the claimant is entitled to more than twenty-two weeks of temporary total disability. The panel has concluded that the judgment should be modified as set forth below. The employee or claimant, Reva Pitts, is thirty-nine and has ahigh school education. She has some computer training. From a previous injury she received a workers' compensation based on forty percent to the body as a whole. In her duties as a tire builder for the employer, Dico Tire, Inc., she operated a machine by pushing foot pedals. As a result, she gradually developed foot pain in both feet, which, on July 24, 1992, Dr. James Engblom diagnosed as tarsal tunnel syndrome, superimposed on other foot maladies. The doctor operated on both feet and estimated her permanent impairment at fourteen percent to both feet. She reached maximum medical improvement for her left foot on August 3, 1992 and for her right foot on November 6, 1992. Dr. Catherine Gyurik, a psychiatrist, began evaluating the claimant on July 28, 1993, and diagnosed recurrent depression chronologically related to her foot problems. The doctor did not testify the claimant was permanently impaired by her mental condition. Dr. Norman Hankins, a vocational expert, testified that the claimant was eighty-one percent disabled from the foot injury and subsequent surgery, based on restrictions from a physical therapist. The chancellor found the employee to be permanently and totally disabled and apportioned forty percent of the award of disability benefits to the Fund and sixty percent to the employer. Additionally, the chancellor awarded temporary total disability benefits from May 21, 1992 to August 22, 1992, and from September 4, 1992 through November 6, 1992. 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 06/10/96
William Richardson v. Murray Ohio Manufacturing Company
01S01-9508-CV-00130
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. James L. Weatherford,
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court awarded the plaintiff 15% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The defendant below appeals, challenging the trial court's finding that plaintiff retains a permanent impairment as a result of his work-related injury. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Plaintiff, 38 at the time of trial is a high school graduate. W hile moving a roll of sheet metal on June 2, 1992, plaintiff felt a sharp pain in his groin. He was referred to Dr. Robert Coble, who diagnosed a right inguinal hernia and performed a surgical repair. After surgery, plaintiff returned to his former employer, performing light duty work for a while and then returning to his former duties. Plaintiff testified that he re-injured this area in October, falling into a split. Plaintiff is now self- employed, painting and cleaning carpets. He testified that he continues to experience pain, soreness and pulling in his groin. Dr. Coble assigned plaintiff an impairment rating of 1% to 15%. He admitted on cross-examination that the A.M.A. Guides allow only a zero to five percent impairment rating for a hernia. He relied in part on the first edition of the A.M.A. Guides but testified that he considered vocational factors such as the employment activity described to him by plaintiff and the problems plaintiff described having while performing those activities. He did not place any permanent restrictions on the plaintiff. Our review is de novo on the record accompanied by the presumption that the findings of fact of the trial court are correct unless the evidence preponderates otherwise. TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). The plaintiff must prove every element of his case by a preponderance of the evidence. White v. Werthan Industries, 824 S.W.2d 158, 159 (Tenn. 1992). Causation and permanency of a work-related injury must be shown in most cases by expert medical evidence. Tindall v. Waring Park Ass'n, 725 S.W.2d 935, 937 (Tenn. 1987).
Lawrence County Workers Compensation Panel 06/07/96