Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 09/01/2014
Format: 09/01/2014
Terry Flatt v. ERMC
W2012-00483-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

An employee sought reconsideration of his workers’ compensation settlement after his position was terminated due to a reduction in workforce. His employer subsequently offered employment to the employee on two occasions after his termination. His employer contended that the employee did not have a loss of employment. The trial court found that the employee was eligible for reconsideration and awarded additional benefits. The employer has appealed, contending that the trial court erred by finding that the employee was eligible for reconsideration. In the alternative, the employer contends that the trial court’s award was excessive. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 01/10/13
Latosha Read v. Hill Services, Inc., et al.
W2012-00224-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong

An employee was found dead at a job site, and his widow made a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits. The claim was denied by his employer. A trial court found that the widow did not sustain her burden of proving that her husband’s death was caused by his employment and entered judgment in favor of the employer. The widow has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 01/10/13
Anthony M. Jordan v. Whirlpool/Jackson Dishwashing Products
W2011-02689-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Donald E. Parish
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

An employee alleged an injury to his shoulder caused by repetitive work activity. His employer denied the employee’s workers’ compensation claim because the initial report of the injury and early medical records described only injuries to the employee’s hand and wrist. The trial court found that the shoulder injury was compensable and awarded workers’ compensation benefits. The employer appealed, arguing that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s findings on the issues of causation and notice. After reviewing the record and considering the employer’s arguments, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 01/10/13
Raymond Darryl Young v. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC
M2011-02551-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clara Byrd

In this workers’ compensation appeal, the employee injured his right shoulder in the course of his employment in July 2009. He missed only a few days of work and reached maximum medical improvement in August 2010. Prior to his reaching maximum medical improvement, a collective bargaining agreement reduced the hourly wages of all of the employer’s production workers. The trial court held that he had a meaningful return to work, thereby limiting his award of benefits to one and one-half times the anatomical impairment in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(A). The employee has appealed, contending that the trial court’s interpretation of the statute was erroneous.We affirm the judgment.

Wilson County Workers Compensation Panel 01/10/13
Robert Laurence v. Tower Insurance Company
E2012-00127-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Gary R. Wade
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri S. Bryant

The employee, a satellite dish installer, injured his head while installing equipment at the residence of a customer of the employer. When the employer denied workers’ compensation benefits for permanent partial disability, the employee filed suit. The trial court awarded temporary total disability benefits and a 70% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The employer appealed. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this appeal has been referred to a special workers’ compensation appeals panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Because an employee is entitled to temporary total disability benefits only until he is able to return to work or reaches his maximum recovery, the trial court erred by awarding an additional fifty weeks of temporary total disability benefits. Otherwise, the judgment is affirmed.

Monroe County Workers Compensation Panel 01/03/13
Sue Cross v. R & R Lumber Company, Inc.
E2012-00492-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Gary R. Wade
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Ray Elledge

A lumber company employee with a history of heart bypass surgery died suddenly at a job site. After learning that the employee’s work activities could have triggered an arrhythmia or myocardial infarction, the widow filed suit for workers’ compensation benefits. The treating cardiologist of the employee concluded that his physical activities on the job contributed to his death, while a cardiologist who examined the medical records disagreed. The trial court awarded benefits, and the employer appealed. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, the appeal has been referred to a special workers’ compensation appeals panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Anderson County Workers Compensation Panel 12/26/12
Stephen D. Good v. Sunkote Plastic Coatings Corporation et al.
M2012-00700-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley

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 sought workers’ compensation benefits, alleging that he injured his back at work on September 30, 2008, and is now totally and permanently disabled. The employer denied that the employee sustained a compensable work-related injury, but alternativelyargued that the employee is not totallyand permanently disabled. The trial court concluded that the employee sustained a compensable work-related injury and awarded 80% permanent partial disability benefits. The employer has appealed, arguing that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding that the injury was compensable and that, even if the employee proved a compensable injury, the evidence preponderates against the award of 80% permanent partial disabilitybenefits. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Van Buren County Workers Compensation Panel 12/19/12
Scott D. Strain v. Mr. Bult's, Inc., et al.
W2012-00232-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Michael Maloan

An employee alleged that he sustained an injury to his back. His employer denied the claim.  The trial court found the injury to be compensable and awarded the employee 30% permanent partial disability benefits. The employer has appealed contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding that the injury is compensable. On appeal, the employee asserts that the award of benefits was inadequate. After review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 11/29/12
Ron W. Robinson v. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC
M2011-02238-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice William C. Koch, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Robert E. Corlew, III

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 pursuant to Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 51. The employee injured his neck in the course of his employment in 2005. He returned to work for his pre-injury employer and settled his claim subject to the one and one-half times impairment cap. In 2009, the employer entered into a new collective bargaining agreement in which the hourly wages of all production workers were reduced. Thereafter, the employee sought reconsideration on his earlier settlement pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-241(d)(1)(B) (2008). The trial court held that the across-the-board wage reduction did not trigger the right to reconsideration and denied the employee’s claim. We affirm the judgment.

Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 11/21/12
John Freeman v. General Motors Company et al.
M2011-02284-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Walter C. Kurtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.

The employee sought reconsideration of workers’ compensation settlements concerning a back injury in 2003 and a right knee injury in 2006. The trial court granted the petition and increased the previous permanent partial disability awards to 30% to the body as a whole for the back injury and 100% to the leg for the knee injury. The employer has appealed, contending that reconsideration of the back injury was barred by the statute of limitations, that the awards for both injuries were excessive, that the trial court incorrectly awarded benefits in excess of six times the anatomical impairment for the knee injury, and that the trial court erred by awarding benefits in a lump sum. The employee contends that the trial court erred by failing to award permanent total disability benefits. We conclude that the employee’s petition for reconsideration of the settlement of his back injury was not timely filed and reverse that part of the judgment. We affirm the judgment in all other respects.

Maury County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/12
Amy McGhee v. Tots and Teens Pediatrics, et al.
E2011-02210-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge E. Riley Anderson
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Billy Joe White

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 alleged that she was injured in the course and scope of her employment with Employer in December 2005. Employee retained the law firm of PryorParrott PC in December 2005 to represent her. They filed a claim with the Department of Labor, but benefits were denied. An action was then filed on Employee’s behalf in the Chancery Court of Campbell County in January 2007. In March 2009, the Chancery Court granted PryorParrott’s motion for leave to withdraw and granted it a lien for expenses in the amount of $1,146.38 and a lien for attorney’s fees in the amount of 10% of any benefits recovered by Employee. Employee then retained attorney David H. Dunaway to represent her. Dunaway ultimately settled Employee’s workers’ compensation claim for a lump sum payment of $100,000. In December 2010, the case was set for settlement approval in Chancery Court. Dunaway, on Employee’s behalf, voluntarily dismissed her Chancery Court case and immediately filed a joint petition for approval of the settlement in the Circuit Court of Campbell County. The Circuit Court approved the settlement, awarded total attorney’s fees in the amount of 20% of Employee’s recovery, and ordered Dunaway to hold in trust the fees pending resolution of PryorParrott’s lien claim. PryorParrott later moved the Chancery Court to set aside the voluntary dismissal, and that court granted the motion. At a later hearing in September 2011, PryorParrott and Dunaway submitted to the jurisdiction of the Chancery Court to determine disputes related to PryorParrott’s lien and the division of fees. The Chancery Court determined that PryorParrott was entitled to a fee of 10% of the settlement, or $10,000, and expenses of $1,146.38, and ordered Dunaway to

Campbell County Workers Compensation Panel 10/17/12
Phillip Keele v. Batesville Casket Company, Inc. et al.
M2012-00034-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa A. Jackson

In this workers’ compensation case, the trial court awarded the employee, a truck driver who fell while attempting to get in his truck, 60% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole for injuries to his left knee and both shoulders. The employer has appealed, asserting that the award is excessive. The employer also maintains the employee failed to prove that the injury to his right shoulder was work-related. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 10/12/12
Pamela A. Jones v. Vanderbilt University
M2011-02250-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry G. Ross

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee, Pamela A. Jones, suffered a work-related injury in 2004 and reached a settlement agreement with her employer, Vanderbilt University (Vanderbilt). She filed this action arguing that Vanderbilt was required to pay for bilateral knee replacement pursuant to the settlement agreement. Vanderbilt alleged that the need for the requested medical treatment was not caused by the work injury. After a hearing, the trial court ordered Vanderbilt to pay for Ms. Jones’s bilateral knee replacement. Vanderbilt has appealed. We affirm the judgment.

Warren County Workers Compensation Panel 10/12/12