Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 09/23/2014
Format: 09/23/2014
Richard Harris v. Triangle Auto Springs Company
01S01-9510-CV-00176
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Jim T. Hamilton
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, Triangle Auto Springs Company, contends (1) the award of permanent partial disability benefits is excessive and (2) the trial court abused its discretion by commuting such award to a lump sum. The panel concludes that the judgment should be modified as provided herein. On October 4, 1991, the employee or claimant, Richard H. Harris, felt a sharp pain in his back while lifting an automobile spring at work for the employer. The employer referred him to the Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint Clinic where his injury was diagnosed as a probable ruptured disk. Medication was prescribed and he returned to work. When he did not improve from conservative care, a CAT scan was ordered, which confirmed a ruptured disk in the low back, with L5 radiculopathy from a pinched nerve. Ultimately, the claimant was referred to Dr. Robert Weiss, who performed a lumbar laminectomy. The surgery was successful and the claimant was finally released from the surgeon's care with a weight lifting limitation of fifty pounds occasionally and thirty pounds repetitively. Dr. Weiss estimated his permanent anatomical impairment at ten percent from guidelines of the American Medical Association. The claimant returned to work for Triangle in January of 1993, but in a lighter position, where he could work within his limitations. When he was laid off from that position and no other was found within his limitations, he attempted to rehabilitate himself by returning to college and studying toward an Associate of Science degree. The employer paid half of his expenses. At the time of the trial, he was working as a technician in the Physical Therapy Department at Maury Regional Hospital. He is studying to become a physical therapist. The claimant and his wife own their home and are current on their debts, a home mortgage and a debt secured by their 1993 Jeep Cherokee. They have been married for sixteen years and have a young daughter. The trial judge found, among other things, that the claimant had a permanent partial disability of sixty percent to the body as a whole and awarded benefits accordingly, which he commuted to a lump sum. 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). This tribunal is required to conduct an independent examination of the record to determine where the preponderance of the evidence lies.
Maury County Workers Compensation Panel 03/14/96
Richard Harris v. Triangle Auto Springs Company
01S01-9510-CV-00176
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Jim T. Hamilton,
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, Triangle Auto Springs Company, contends (1) the award of permanent partial disability benefits is excessive and (2) the trial court abused its discretion by commuting such award to a lump sum. The panel concludes that the judgment should be modified as provided herein. On October 4, 1991, the employee or claimant, Richard H. Harris, felt a sharp pain in his back while lifting an automobile spring at work for the employer. The employer referred him to the Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint Clinic where his injury was diagnosed as a probable ruptured disk. Medication was prescribed and he returned to work. When he did not improve from conservative care, a CAT scan was ordered, which confirmed a ruptured disk in the low back, with L5 radiculopathy from a pinched nerve. Ultimately, the claimant was referred to Dr. Robert Weiss, who performed a lumbar laminectomy. The surgery was successful and the claimant was finally released from the surgeon's care with a weight lifting limitation of fifty pounds occasionally and thirty pounds repetitively. Dr. Weiss estimated his permanent anatomical impairment at ten percent from guidelines of the American Medical Association. The claimant returned to work for Triangle in January of 1993, but in a lighter position, where he could work within his limitations. When he was laid off from that position and no other was found within his limitations, he attempted to rehabilitate himself by returning to college and studying toward an Associate of Science degree. The employer paid half of his expenses. At the time of the trial, he was working as a technician in the Physical Therapy Department at Maury Regional Hospital. He is studying to become a physical therapist. The claimant and his wife own their home and are current on their debts, a home mortgage and a debt secured by their 1993 Jeep Cherokee. They have been married for sixteen years and have a young daughter. The trial judge found, among other things, that the claimant had a permanent partial disability of sixty percent to the body as a whole and awarded benefits accordingly, which he commuted to a lump sum. 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). This tribunal is required to conduct an independent examination of the record to determine where the preponderance of the evidence lies.
Maury County Workers Compensation Panel 03/14/96
Gary Charles Hill v. Insurance Company of North America
03S01-9712-CH-00150
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Jeffrey F. Stewart,
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, Gary Charles Hill, 1% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The insurance carrier, Insurance Company of North America, has appealed contending the evidence does not support a finding of permanent disability. Employee Hill was 41 years of age at the time of the incident in question and was a high school graduate. A great deal of his work experience has been as a painter but he has operated construction equipment and worked as a carpenter. He had been employed by Raytheon since 1994 and was doing industrial painting on about February 16, 1995. He testified he was operating a grinder under a large- like air compressor when he felt a pull in a muscle. When this pain occurred he was lying down in a somewhat twisted position and was working over his head. He reported the incident to his employer and was given a list of three physicians. He chose Dr. Lester F. Littell and saw him on March 2, 1995. Dr. Littell told him he had a pinched nerve and would probably need surgery. Hoping to avoid surgery, he went to see a private physician, Dr. Ernest Forsten. Dr. Forsten scheduled an M.R.I. examination and later referred him to Dr. Larry Gibson, a neurologist. Plaintiff continued to work with his complaints and was terminated from employment on August 22, 1995. His employer told him the termination was due to his "arrest record." At the trial he told the court the accident caused neck pain and numbness in some of his fingers and thumb. He said he felt his recovery was about 75% back to normal status but he was still having pain in the back of his shoulder and down his left arm. He said he could not return to industrial painting work but he had worked at small painting jobs such as painting bedrooms, porches, fences, etc. All of the expert medical testimony was presented by deposition. Dr. Larry Gibson testified plaintiff had damage or a pinching of his 6th and 7th nerve with subsequent weakness in the left triceps. He stated a nerve conduction study confirmed the diagnosis. Testing also revealed a bulging disc which was due 2
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 02/16/11
Sheila Reece v. J. T. Walker Industries Inc. d/b/a Rite
E2006-01555-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Jerry Scott, Sr. J.
Trial Court Judge: G. Richard Johnson, Chancellor
This workers= compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers= Compensation Appeals Panel of the Tennessee Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The employee developed bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of her employment. The trial court awarded her 50% permanent partial disability to both hands. The employer has appealed, contending the award is excessive. We modify the award to 50% permanent partial disability to both arms, and affirm the judgment
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 02/16/11
Charles Blake Britton v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.
03S01-9901-CH-00012
Authoring Judge: John K. Byers, Sr. J.
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Jerri S. Bryant
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Review of the findings of fact made by the trial court is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of the correctness of the finding, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(2); Stone v. City of McMinnville, 896 S.W.2d 548, 55 (Tenn. 1995). The application of this standard requires this Court to weigh in more depth the factual findings and conclusions of the trial courts in workers' compensation cases. See Corcoran v. Foster Auto GMC, Inc., 746 S.W.2d 452, 456 (Tenn. 1988). The plaintiff brought this action to recover for an injury which he alleges occurred in February of 1995. The trial judge found the plaintiff had failed to show the injury of 1995 entitled him to recover. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 02/16/11