Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 12/25/2014
Format: 12/25/2014
Jerome Douglas v. Ledic Realty Service et al.
W2012-00345-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Janice M. Holder
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter L. Evans

An employee alleged that he sustained a compensable injury to his lower back. His employer denied his workers’ compensation claim. At trial, the employee failed to present expert medical testimony. At the conclusion of the employee’s case, the trial court granted the employer’s motion for involuntary dismissal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.02(2) because the employee did not present any expert medical testimony. The employee has appealed. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 02/13/13
Lora Vawter v. Volunteer Management Development
W2012-00471-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

In this workers’ compensation case, the employee alleged that her work as a bookkeeper caused a compensable aggravation of her pre-existing rheumatoid arthritis. Her employer denied her claim. The trial court awarded benefits to the employee, and her employer has appealed. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 02/13/13
Joseph Sims v. Millennium Packaging Solutions, LLC
E2011-02448-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge E. Riley Anderson
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jeffrey M. Atherton

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 fell and struck his head in March of 2000 in the course and scope of his employment, resulting in a complex scalp laceration, post-concussion syndrome and dysfunction of the trigeminal nerve. He filed this workers’ compensation action in February of 2001, seeking temporary total disability and permanent disability benefits and medical expenses. After many delays the case was heard in September of 2011. The employee’s medical expert testified that he had a 21% permanent impairment and was temporarily disabled until 2009. The employer’s expert testified that he had a 5% impairment, had reached maximum medical improvement and was able to work at the time of his examination in 2007. The trial court awarded temporary total disability benefits from 2000 to 2007, a total of 369.98 weeks, and awarded 60% permanent partial disability, a total of 240 weeks, for a grand total of 609.98 weeks. The employer has appealed, contending that the court erred in awarding more than a total of 400 weeks, in awarding temporary total disability benefits without proper medical proof of inability to work and in awarding 60% permanent partial disability without defining the specific anatomical impairment rating. We reverse the judgment in part and affirm in part.

Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 02/04/13
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