Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 08/31/2014
Format: 08/31/2014
Marvin Windows of Tennessee, Inc. v. James Gardner
W2011-01479-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker

The employee was injured in 2007 and returned to work for his pre-injury employer. The employee’s claim was settled in November 2007 and was subject to the one and one-half times impairment cap set out in Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(A). In July 2009, the employee was diagnosed with cancer, and he took a medical leave of absence. The employee remained on leave for over one year. The employer’s policy permitted one year of medical leave. When the employee was unable to return to work in July 2010, he was terminated pursuant to that policy. The employee then sought reconsideration of the November 2007 settlement. The trial court found that the employee was not eligible for reconsideration. The employee has appealed, contending that the trial court’s ruling was erroneous. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lauderdale County Workers Compensation Panel 06/08/12
Sammy T. Robertson v. Roadway Express, Inc.
E2011-01384-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Michael Sharp

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 injured his lower back on August 22, 2005. The trial court approved a settlement of his workers’ compensation claim in 2008. The order approving the workers’ compensation settlement provided for future authorized medical treatment in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-204. In January 2011, the employee’s treating physician recommended a surgical procedure. The employer’s medical utilization review provider determined that the medical necessity of the procedure was not documented, and the employer denied approval for the procedure. The employee appealed the decision to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“the Department”), and the Department’s medical director did not overturn the utilization review decision. The employee then filed a petition in the trial court, seeking an order requiring the employer to authorize the surgery. The trial court granted the petition but denied the employee’s application for attorney’s fees. The employer has appealed, contending that the trial court erred by granting the petition, that the employee failed to exhaust his administrative remedy, and that the petition is barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel. The employee has appealed from the denial of an award of attorney’s fees. We vacate the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the case without reaching the merits of the appeal.

Bradley County Workers Compensation Panel 06/08/12
Cynthia Simmons v. Ken-Kel Management, Inc., et al.
W2011-01924-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kenny W. Armstrong

An employee filed a motion requesting that a former employer be ordered to provide postjudgment medical treatment. After a hearing, the trial court granted the employee’s motion. The former employer has appealed, contending that the trial court erred in granting the employee’s motion. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 06/01/12
Vicki Marsh v. Farrar Holliman and Medley et al.
M2011-00812-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Walter C. Kurtz, Senior Judge
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry G. Ross

The only issue before the trial court was the apportionment of liability between the employer and the Second Injury Fund. The employee had two compensable injuries prior to the injury that rendered her permanently and totally disabled. The trial court found that those injuries had caused 85% permanent partial disability. Based on that finding, it held the employer liable for 15% of the award and the Second Injury Fund liable for 85% of the award. We find that the trial court incorrectly applied Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6208(a)(1)(2008), and modify the award accordingly.
 

Warren County Workers Compensation Panel 05/17/12
Stephen Wheeler v. Cleo Wrap, Inc. et al.
W2011-00336-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kenny W. Armstrong

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee suffered a fractured wrist as a result of  workplace accident. He contended that he also sustained a neck injury and post-traumatic tress disorder from the accident. The trial court awarded benefits for the wrist injury only, and the employee has appealed. We affirm the judgment.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 05/16/12
Delta Faucet Company v. Jeffrey Noles - Concurring in part and dissenting in part
W2011-00383-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tony A. Childress
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

I concur fully in the majority’s conclusions on all issues except for the notice of the aggravation or advancement of the carpel tunnel syndrome claim, and it is on that issue that I must respectfully dissent. On the issue of notice the trial court found that “Notice was available to Delta not only through its pre-employment physical, but through its own doctor's records, particularly Dr. Pearce who performed CT surgery on Noles. No prejudice was shown to Delta by any delay in notice.” I fully agree with the majority’s conclusions that Delta did not receive proper notice from the preemployment physical and Dr. Pearce’s medical records. The majority correctly states that Mr. Noles testified that he informed Delta’s plant nurse that he had numbness in his left hand and right thumb at the time he reported his elbow injury and that Delta did not produce the plant nurse to testify at trial. The majority then states that Mr. Noles’ testimony on that point was unrefuted at trial. Since the trial court had resolved some conflicts in evidence in favor of Mr. Noles, the majority infers that the trial court accredited Mr. Noles’ testimony on the notice issue as well. Based upon this inference the majority concludes that Delta received notice of the advancement of the carpel tunnel injury by way of Mr. Noles’ conversation with Delta’s plant nurse.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 05/11/12
Delta Faucet Company v. Jeffrey Noles
W2011-00383-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Janice Holder
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

An employee alleged that he sustained a work-related injury to his elbow and that his work aggravated his pre-existing carpal tunnel syndrome. His employer denied the claims, asserting that the employee’s elbow problem was related to a prior injury and that his carpal tunnel syndrome was not caused or worsened by his work. The trial court awarded benefits for both injuries. The employer appealed, contending that the trial court erred in finding that the employee sustained a compensable injury to his elbow. The employer also contends that the trial court erred in finding that the employee’s carpal tunnel syndrome was compensable and that the employee gave proper notice of the carpal tunnel injury. The employer also appeals the trial court’s finding that the employee did not have a meaningful return to work, the award of temporary total disability benefits, and the amount of the award to the employee. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 05/11/12
Lojac Enterprises et al. v. Leonard J. Kanipe
M2011-01525-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. S. "Steve" Daniel, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda McClendon

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 was injured on the job and was able to return to his pre-injury position. His initial workers’ compensation claim was settled after a benefit review conference. As a part of his settlement he retained a right of reconsideration pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1) (2008). Subsequently,he lost his employment. After an impasse at the benefit review conference, his employer filed this action to reconsider the employee’s benefits in the county where the injury occurred. The employee then filed a similar suit in the county of his residence. The employee filed a motion to dismiss the employer’s action, contending that Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(B)(iv) does not permit an employer to file a reconsideration action. The employer contended that the statute did permit filing of a reconsideration action by an employer or in the alternative, the statute was unconstitutional. The trial court in the employer’s case granted the motion to dismiss and found the statute constitutional. The employer has appealed. We affirm the judgment.
 

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 05/10/12
Kiewit-Act, a Joint Venture v. Chris Jones and Christopher Bryon Jones v. Kiewit-Act a Joint Venture and Zurich American Insurance Company
M2011-01202-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. S. "Steve" Daniel, Special Judge
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy V. Hollars

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 has appealed the trial court’s denial of benefits for injuries to his right shoulder purportedly caused by a fall at work. The trial court denied the claim based on a finding that the employee’s testimony was not credible and that he failed to establish that his injury arose out of and in the course of his employment. The employee has also challenged the trial court’s award of $3,245.25 in discretionary costs to the employer. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 

DeKalb County Workers Compensation Panel 05/10/12
Melvin Hill v. Whirlpool Corporation et al.
M2011-01291-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice William C. Koch, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa A. Jackson

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 Tenn.Sup.Ct. R. 51. The employee filed a complaint in the ChanceryCourt forCoffee Countyseeking workers’compensation benefits forhis lossofhearing. Following a bench trial, the trial court concluded that the employee’s hearing loss was caused by his exposure to noise at the workplace. Accordingly, the trial court awarded the employee $68,759.73 in permanent partial disability benefits after concluding that the employee had a vocational disability of 78% to his hearing. The court also awarded the employee his reasonable and necessary medical expensesand discretionary costs. The employer raises two issues on this appeal: (1) whether the employee gave timely notice of his alleged injury; and (2) whether the employee failed to prove that his hearing loss was work-related. We hold that the trial court did not err in finding that the employee gave timely notice and that the employee proved his hearing loss was work-related. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 

Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 05/10/12
Marine Accessories Corporation v. Edwina Woods
E2011-01116-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Michael W. Moyers

In this workers’ compensation case, the employee sustained a compensable back injury for which he was prescribed medication. Approximately five weeks after his injury, the employee died from gastrointestinal bleeding. His widow sought workers’ compensation benefits, claiming that his death was compensable because it was caused by the medication he was prescribed for his work injury. The employer denied her claim, contending that the employee’s death was not caused by the medication, but was instead the result of esophageal varices caused by alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver. The trial court held that the widow did not sustain her burden of proof, and she appeals. We affirm.

Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 05/03/12
Randall Norwood v. Maytag Corporation d/b/a Maytag Jackson Dishwashing Products
W2011-01477-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Donald P. Harris
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee contended that he struck his head against the casing of a conveyor belt, causing permanent and total disability due to a resulting cervical strain and mental injury. His employer denied that he sustained any permanent disability as a result of the incident. The trial court awarded 95% permanent partial disability benefits. The employer has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding. We affirm the judgment.

Henderson County Workers Compensation Panel 04/30/12
Sandra M. Buttrey v. Altria Group, Inc.
M2011-00661-WC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The employee had degenerative disk disease for a number of years prior to April 2009, when she reported to her employer that she was experiencing significantly increased neck pain and symptoms, and she sought treatment. The employer denied the employee’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court credited the testimony of the employee and of one of the treating physicians and awarded the employee 28.5% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The employer appeals, asserting that the employee’s injury was not caused by her employment. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Maury County Workers Compensation Panel 04/24/12