Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 12/18/2014
Format: 12/18/2014
Linda May Kepley v. Yamakawa Manufacturing Company of America and Yasuda Fire & Marine Insurance Company
01S01-9505-CV-00075
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Thomas E. Gray
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 defendants appeal the trial court's award of 4% permanent partial disability to the right upper extremity. They contend that the plaintiff did not prove that she had suffered a permanent injury, that they are not liable for such injury, if it exists, due to the application of the last injurious injury rule and that, even if her injury is compensable and they are liable, the trial court's award is excessive. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. The plaintiff, 45 at the time of trial, has a G.E.D. She has worked almost exclusively in manufacturing facilities, performing mostly assembly and packing jobs. She began working for the defendant-employer in May 1991. In July 1992, she began experiencing problems with her wrists. She was eventually referred to Dr. Anderson, a neurologist, who took her off work for about three weeks. She returned to work after this respite but quit after a few months to move to Illinois to marry. She testified at trial that her arms improved while she was off work. She testified that, when she returned to work, she worked with pain and at a slower rate than she had before. She did not work for the first few months she lived in Illinois, and she testified that her arms improved over this time but that her pain never resolved, and she tried to use her left hand more often. Dr. Anderson testified that an E.M.G. performed on the plaintiff prior to her being taken off work indicated she had carpal tunnel syndrome in her left arm. This diagnosis was consistent with the plaintiff's subjective complaints and his objective findings, he testified. When she returned from Illinois to see him in November, he performed another E.M.G. on her, which indicated borderline carpal tunnel syndrome in her right arm. At the plaintiff's request, he released her to return to work. Plaintiff began working for R.G. Ray in Illinois at the end of January 1994. After about five weeks, she began experiencing pain in her wrists again, worse pain
Sumner County Workers Compensation Panel 04/26/96
Linda May Kepley v. Yamakawa Manufacturing Company of America and Yasuda Fire & Marine Insurance Company
01S01-9505-CV-00075
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Thomas E. Gray
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 defendants appeal the trial court's award of 4% permanent partial disability to the right upper extremity. They contend that the plaintiff did not prove that she had suffered a permanent injury, that they are not liable for such injury, if it exists, due to the application of the last injurious injury rule and that, even if her injury is compensable and they are liable, the trial court's award is excessive. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. The plaintiff, 45 at the time of trial, has a G.E.D. She has worked almost exclusively in manufacturing facilities, performing mostly assembly and packing jobs. She began working for the defendant-employer in May 1991. In July 1992, she began experiencing problems with her wrists. She was eventually referred to Dr. Anderson, a neurologist, who took her off work for about three weeks. She returned to work after this respite but quit after a few months to move to Illinois to marry. She testified at trial that her arms improved while she was off work. She testified that, when she returned to work, she worked with pain and at a slower rate than she had before. She did not work for the first few months she lived in Illinois, and she testified that her arms improved over this time but that her pain never resolved, and she tried to use her left hand more often. Dr. Anderson testified that an E.M.G. performed on the plaintiff prior to her being taken off work indicated she had carpal tunnel syndrome in her left arm. This diagnosis was consistent with the plaintiff's subjective complaints and his objective findings, he testified. When she returned from Illinois to see him in November, he performed another E.M.G. on her, which indicated borderline carpal tunnel syndrome in her right arm. At the plaintiff's request, he released her to return to work. Plaintiff began working for R.G. Ray in Illinois at the end of January 1994. After about five weeks, she began experiencing pain in her wrists again, worse pain
Sumner County Workers Compensation Panel 04/26/96
Vera Jane King v. Travelers Insurance Company and Carter Automotive Products, Inc.
01S01-9509-CH-00155
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Charles Smith
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 injured her right arm while using an air screwdriver on the assembly line at defendant's automotive products plant. The trial judge awarded her 9 percent permanent partial disability to the right arm and modified the average weekly wage and compensation rate. We find the evidence preponderates against an award of 9 percent and in favor of an award of 5 percent permanent partial disability to the right arm and affirm the judgment of the trial court as so modified. The plaintiff is 56 years old with a tenth grade education and a GED certificate. She had worked in factory assembly with defendant for 17 years at the time she was injured. On July 13, 1992, while using an air screwdriver to build fuel pumps, she experienced severe pain. Her family practice physician diagnosed acute lateral epicondylitis caused by repetitive motion. He recommended that she change jobs so that she would not have to apply pressure with her arms. He placed her on light duty and prescribed physical therapy. Her pain complaints did not improve. Dr. Fonda J. Bondurant, orthopedic surgeon, treated plaintiff for three months with cortisone injections. When plaintiff's complaints of pain still did not improve, he performed surgical release of the elbow in November of 1992. She was able to return to work in January of 1993, but worked long days and experienced recurrent pain. She was placed on a reduced work schedule of four hours per day. Plaintiff reached maximum medical improvement on April 19, 1993, and Dr. Bondurant opined she would continue to have pain and would be restricted to work that did not require repetitive motion. He found no loss of grip strength, no sensory changes, full range of elbow motion, and 3 percent permanent partial disability to the body as a whole according to AMA Guidelines as a result of her residual pain. Dr. Robert Paul Landsberg, orthopedic surgeon, conducted an independent medical examination for plaintiff's counsel on October 2, 1994. He diagnosed 2
Macon County Workers Compensation Panel 04/26/96
Nellie Myrtle Farley v. Liberty Mutual Insurance
01S01-9509-CV-00147
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Bobby H. Capers
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 defendants below appeal the trial court's award of 75% permanent partial disability to each upper extremity. They challenge the amount of the award, its commutation to a lump sum, and the trial court's award of temporary total disability benefits from May 26, 1994 to December 1, 1994. We modify the trial court's award, finding that the evidence preponderates against an award of 75% permanent partial disability to each extremity and towards a finding of 45% permanent partial disability to each extremity. As modified, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. Plaintiff, 63 at the time of trial, has a sixth grade education. She worked for the defendant-employer for almost 26 years. In late October 1993, she was found to have bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. She continued to work until January 3, 1994, when she took an early retirement. She testified at trial that she retired early because her arms were "messed up." Carpal tunnel releases were performed in February and May 1994. At trial, she testified that she reached maximum medical improvement in early December 1994. She has not applied for any job since her retirement. Dr. Abbey, an orthopedic surgeon, treated the plaintiff and testified, by deposition, on behalf of the defendant. He testified that the plaintiff did well post- operatively and that he assigned her a zero percent impairment rating. He also testified that after he assigned her this rating, the plaintiff had problems with swelling and discomfort and, between the two surgeries, she developed triggering in her left long finger. He opined that the plaintiff reached maximum medical improvement on May 23, 1994 for her carpal tunnel syndrome, although she probably had not reached that stage for her triggering finger. He assigned no permanent restrictions. Dr. Robert Paul Landsberg, another orthopedist, examined the plaintiff at the request of her attorney and testified, also by deposition, on her behalf. He
Trousdale County Workers Compensation Panel 04/26/96
Nellie Myrtle Farley v. Liberty Mutual Insurance
01S01-9509-CV-00147
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge John K. Byers
Trial Court Judge: Hon. Bobby Capers,
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 defendants below appeal the trial court's award of 75% permanent partial disability to each upper extremity. They challenge the amount of the award, its commutation to a lump sum, and the trial court's award of temporary total disability benefits from May 26, 1994 to December 1, 1994. We modify the trial court's award, finding that the evidence preponderates against an award of 75% permanent partial disability to each extremity and towards a finding of 45% permanent partial disability to each extremity. As modified, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. Plaintiff, 63 at the time of trial, has a sixth grade education. She worked for the defendant-employer for almost 26 years. In late October 1993, she was found to have bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. She continued to work until January 3, 1994, when she took an early retirement. She testified at trial that she retired early because her arms were "messed up." Carpal tunnel releases were performed in February and May 1994. At trial, she testified that she reached maximum medical improvement in early December 1994. She has not applied for any job since her retirement. Dr. Abbey, an orthopedic surgeon, treated the plaintiff and testified, by deposition, on behalf of the defendant. He testified that the plaintiff did well post- operatively and that he assigned her a zero percent impairment rating. He also testified that after he assigned her this rating, the plaintiff had problems with swelling and discomfort and, between the two surgeries, she developed triggering in her left long finger. He opined that the plaintiff reached maximum medical improvement on May 23, 1994 for her carpal tunnel syndrome, although she probably had not reached that stage for her triggering finger. He assigned no permanent restrictions. Dr. Robert Paul Landsberg, another orthopedist, examined the plaintiff at the request of her attorney and testified, also by deposition, on her behalf. He
Trousdale County Workers Compensation Panel 04/26/96
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
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