Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 10/30/2014
Format: 10/30/2014
Sheila Paschall ex rel Murray Paschall et al. v. SGS North America, Inc. et al.
M2012-00399-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jim T. Hamilton

In this worker’s compensation action, the widow of the decedent sought workers’ compensation benefits for her husband’s death. She filed suit twice but voluntarily non-suited each of those actions. She filed suit a third time, and her husband’s employer moved to dismiss, contending that the third action was barred by the statute of limitations and by Tenn. R. Civ. Pro. 41.01(2). The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, and the widow has appealed, contending that her third action was timely filed. We reverse the decision of the trial court.
 

Maury County Workers Compensation Panel 01/30/13
David Amado v. Bridgestone Firestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC et al.
M2012-00094-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor L. Craig Johnson

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee alleged that he sustained compensable injuries to both shoulders. His employer conceded the compensability of the right shoulder injury, but denied the left shoulder claim. An examination was done by a physician through the Medical Impairment Registry(“MIR”) regarding the right shoulder claim. The trial court found that the presumption of correctness of the MIR impairment opinion had been overcome by clear and convincing evidence as to the right shoulder injury. The trial court also concluded that the left shoulder injury was compensable and awarded benefits accordingly. The trial court also denied employer’s claim that it was entitled to an offset pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-114(b) for benefits paid under its accident and sickness policy. We hold and find that the trial court erred by failing to apply the offset sought by the employer, and affirm the judgment in all other respects.
 

Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 01/30/13
Michael Draine v. S & ME, Inc, et al
E2012-00384-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge J.S. "Steve" Daniel
Trial Court Judge: Judge E.G. Moody

In this workers’ compensation case, a Hawkins County employee sustained a compensable injury in September 2000. His claim was settled in July 2003. The settlement, which was approved by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, provided that the employer would continue to provide medical care for the injury in accordance with the workers’ compensation law. In 2009, the employee and his employer’s insurer entered into an agreement closing future medical benefits in exchange for a lump sum payment, subject to approval by Medicare. This settlement closing future medical benefits was approved by the Circuit Court for Knox County by agreement of the parties. Medicare declined to approve the proposed agreement and suggested an alternate, much larger, lump sum payment. The employee filed a petition in the Circuit Court for Sullivan County to enforce the settlement agreement as amended by Medicare. The employer and insurer moved to dismiss, based on improper venue. That motion was denied. After a series of non-evidentiary hearings, the trial court ordered the employer’s insurer to make a lump sum payment in excess of $500,000. The employer and insurer have appealed, contending that the trial court erred by denying their motion to dismiss, and by ordering the $500,000 payment. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, 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. We conclude that the trial court erred by denying the motion to dismiss, and therefore reverse.

Sullivan County Workers Compensation Panel 01/22/13
Eric Sutton v. McKinney Drilling Company, et al.
W2012-00503-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Donald Parish
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Kenny Armstrong

An employee was pinned between a large crane and a pickup truck. He suffered injuries to his ribs, shoulder, and back. He also suffered a collapsed lung and contusions on his lungs. He recovered from those injuries and was able to return to work for his employer. The trial court found the correct impairment to be 19% to the body as a whole and awarded 28.5% permanent partial disability benefits. The employer contends that the trial court erred by awarding benefits for pulmonary dysfunction. The employee contends that the award was based on an incorrect impairment rating. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 01/18/13
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