Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 12/19/2014
Format: 12/19/2014
Paul E. Arnett v. McMinn County Government, et al.
E2012-01356-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Gary R. Wade
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri S. Bryant

The employee, a truck driver for McMinn County, suffered injuries in a job-related accident. Later, he filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits claiming that he had been permanently and totally disabled as a result of his injuries. The employer acknowledged that the employee’s shoulder and leg injuries were compensable but argued that his spinal injuries were not work related. Because a physician who performed two spinal surgeries on the employee was not listed on the employer’s panel of medical providers, the employer denied responsibility for the associated medical costs. While ordering that all of the employee’s injuries were compensable and granting permanent total disability benefits, the trial court did not require the employer to pay the medical costs incident to the second surgery. In this appeal, the employer maintains that the trial court erred by holding that the employee was entitled to recover either benefits or the cost of medical treatment for his spinal injuries. In response, the employee argues that the trial court erred by failing to award payment of the medical costs incident to the second surgery. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of facts and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. The judgment is affirmed, but modified to require the employer to pay the medical costs incident to the second surgery. The cause is remanded for an assessment of the medical expenses related to the second surgery.

McMinn County Workers Compensation Panel 07/09/13
Jeffrey Patterson v. ThyssenKrupp Elevator Company
W2012-01619-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Don R. Ash
Trial Court Judge: Judge Martha B. Brasfield

In this workers’ compensation case, the employee alleged he suffered a ruptured cervical disk while lifting metal plates at work. His employer denied the claim, contending the neck injury was caused or worsened by a subsequent motor vehicle accident. The employee filed this action in the Chancery Court of Hardeman County, seeking workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court ruled in favor of the employee, awarding temporary and permanent disability benefits plus future medical benefits. The employer has appealed, contending the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Hardeman County Workers Compensation Panel 06/10/13
David Hardy v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. - Concurring/Dissenting Opinion
W2012-00396-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor W. Michael Maloan

I concur fully in the majority’s conclusion on the issue of estoppel. On the statute of limitations issue, however, I respectfully dissent.

Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 05/09/13
David Hardy v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
W2012-00396-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor W. Michael Maloan

Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this hearing-loss case, the employer raises a single issue on appeal: whether the trial court erred in finding that employee’s workers’ compensation claim is not barred by the applicable one-year statute of limitations. We affirm the trial court’s judgment finding that the claim was timely.

Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 05/09/13
Joe Christopher Watson v. The Parent Company
M2012-01147-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor L. Craig Johnson

In 2007, the employee suffered a work-related back injury, for which he filed a workers’ compensation claim. After conservative treatment failed to provide relief, the employee obtained an unauthorized fusion surgery. The parties settled the workers’ compensation action in 2009. The settlement provided for “future medical benefits relating to the back injury” of 2007, while precluding future benefits for unauthorized care. In 2011, the employee sought authorization for a second surgerybyan authorized surgeon. The employer refused. The trial court ordered the employer to payfor the second surgery, and the employer has appealed. After reviewing the record, we conclude that the employer has appealed an order that is not final and that this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear this appeal. Thus, this appeal is dismissed.
 

Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 05/08/13
James Reed v. Central Transport North America, Inc.
E2012-00535-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Paul G. Summers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dale Workman

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee suffered a compensable back injury. Surgery did not relieve his symptoms of severe pain. The trial court awarded 84% permanent partial disability benefits. The employer filed a motion to set aside the judgment based on the employee’s alleged failure to supplement his discovery responses. The trial court denied the motion. The employer has appealed, contending that the award is excessive and that the trial court erred by denying its post-trial motion. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 04/29/13
Randall S. Rogers v. Thyssenkrupp Waupaca, Inc., et al.
E2012-00904-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri S. Bryant

Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and report of findings of fact and conclusion of law. The Employee alleged that he sustained a gradual injury to his back in 2007 as a result of his work as a maintenance technician. His employer denied that a compensable injury had occurred and denied that employee had provided timely notice. The trial court found the Employee had sustained a compensable injury and that timely notice had been given. The trial court also found that the Employee had been terminated for cause and limited the award to one and one-half times the anatomical impairment. The Employer has appealed, asserting that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding on compensability. We reverse the judgment of the trial court.

McMinn County Workers Compensation Panel 04/15/13
James Carrigan v. Davenport Towing and Recovery Services, LLC, et al.
W2012-00586-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Tony Childress
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter L. Evans

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee alleged that he sustained a compensable injury to his lower back while using a sledge hammer. He had injured his back in a similar manner a year earlier, and his employer asserted that the earlier event was the cause of the employee’s symptoms and need for additional medical treatment. The trial court found that the employee had sustained a compensable injury and awarded additional temporary and permanent disability benefits. The employer has appealed, challenging both the temporary and permanent disability benefits awarded. The employee raises two additional issues:  the adequacy of the vocational disability award and the trial court’s decision not to award certain discretionary costs. We reverse the trial court’s decision not to award the employee each of the discretionary costs requested; we affirm judgment of the trial court in all other respects.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 04/11/13
Bellsouth Telecommunications, Inc. v. Alonzo W. Howard
M2012-00788-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Hamilton V. Gayden, Jr.

Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The employee reported to his employer that he had sustained bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of his work activities. The employer provided the employee with medical treatment. After the parties reached an impasse at the benefit review conference, the employer filed a petition seeking a determination of whether the employee was entitled to additional workers’ compensation benefits. The employee’s pre-trial motion to compel discovery was denied by the trial court. At trial, both sides presented expert medical evidence to support their positions as to the cause and nature of the employee’s condition. The trial court denied the employee’s claim, accrediting the testimony of the employer’s expert witness that the employee did not suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and that his symptoms did not arise out of or occur in the course and scope of his employment. On appeal, the employee contends that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion to compel discovery and in accrediting the testimony of the employer’s expert witness. After careful review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 04/11/13
Jackie Perry v. Lennox Hearth Products
W2011-02389-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Janice M. Holder
Trial Court Judge: Judge William Michael Maloan

An employee alleged that he suffered a work-related hearing loss. After finding that the employee established a compensable injury, the trial court awarded 40% permanent partial disability benefits. The employer appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding that the employee suffered a compensable injury. Alternatively, the employer contends that the award was excessive. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 04/11/13
Carl Bohannan v. Expedited Transport Associates, Inc. et al.
M2012-00694-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy V.Hollars

In this workers’ compensation appeal, the employee, a truck driver, alleged that he injured his right shoulder and low back when his tractor-trailer overturned. His employer stipulated that the shoulder injury was compensable, but denied that he had sustained a permanent back injury. Instead, the employer contended that the employee’s back symptoms were the result of a previous back injury, which had been the subject of a previous workers’ compensation claim and settlement. The trial court determined that the employee had suffered a new, compensable back injury and was permanently and totally disabled. The trial court apportioned 80% of the liability for the award to the employer and 20% to the Second Injury Fund. Employer has appealed, contending that the trial court erred by finding that a new, compensable back injury occurred. In the alternative, it argues that the trial court incorrectly apportioned the award. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Putnam County Workers Compensation Panel 04/10/13
Stanley Franklin v. Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc. et al.
M2012-00864-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Charles K. Smith

After the employee sustained a compensable injury to his low back which required surgery, he returned to work. The company for which he worked was sold to another entity after the date of injury but before the employee’s return to work. At trial, both parties agreed that the one and one-half times multiplier cap did not apply because the sale of the company was a “loss of employment” for the purposes of Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6241(d). At trial, the employee was awarded 78% permanent partial disability, the maximum permitted under law, based on an anatomical rating of 13%. The employer has appealed and is contending that the award is excessive. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.
 

Smith County Workers Compensation Panel 04/10/13
Pamela Ingram v. Heads Up Hair Cutting Center
M2012-00464-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Claudia C. Bonnyman

This workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. The employee alleged she sustained a gradual injury to her cervical spine as a result of her job. Her employer denied her condition was work-related and contended that her claim was barred by her failure to provide timely notice of her claim and the operation of the statute of limitations. The employer also argued subsequent employers were liable per the last injurious injury rule. The trial court found for the employee and awarded benefits. On the employer’s motion to alter or amend, the trial court held that the employee’s award was capped at one and one-half times the anatomical impairment rate pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1). The employer appeals, contending the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s findings concerning compensability and the statute of limitations. The employee asserts the trial court erred by capping her disability award. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 04/10/13