Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 11/28/2014
Format: 11/28/2014
03C01-9606-CC-00211
Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/28/97
01S01-9511-CH-00208
Bedford County Supreme Court 01/27/97
01S01-9511-CH-00208
Bedford County Supreme Court 01/27/97
01S01-9511-CH-00208
Bedford County Supreme Court 01/27/97
02S01-9509-CV-00074
Supreme Court 01/27/97
02S01-9607-CH-00062
Supreme Court 01/27/97
Huttchson vs. Cole
M1999-00204-COA-R10-CV
Wilson County Court of Appeals 01/27/97
Jerry T. Matheny v. Insurance Co. of North America
02S01-9604-CH-00034
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court inaccordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The issue in this appeal is whether the trial court erred in not enlarging an award, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6- 241(a)(2). As discussed below, the panel has concluded the judgment should be affirmed. The injury in question occurred on September 5, 1992 to the claimant's neck. The claimant was treated by a physician who assigned a permanent impairment rating of eight percent to the body. The claimant returned to work at a wage equal to or greater than the wage he was receiving at the time of the injury and was awarded permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of two and one-half times the impairment rating, or twenty percent to the body as a whole, paid in a lump sum. The award was made on March 22, 1994. On May 9, 1994, the claimant suffered another injury to his neck at work. From that injury, superimposed upon two previous injuries, including the one in question, he was found to be one hundred percent permanently disabled and awarded benefits accordingly. Because of the disability resulting from the most recent injury, the claimant is unable to return to work. The claimant contends he is therefore entitled to have the previous award enlarged. For injuries arising after August 1, 1992, by Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-241(a)(1), in cases where an injured worker is entitled to permanent partial disability benefits to the body as a whole and the pre-injury employer returns the employee to employment at a wage equal to or greater than the wage the employee was receiving at the time of the injury, the maximum permanent partial disability award the employee may receive istwo and one-half times the medical impairment rating. By Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6- 241(a)(2), if the injured worker thereafter loses his or her pre-injury employment, the court may, upon proper application made within one year of the employee's loss of employment, and if such loss of employment is within four hundred weeks of the day the employee returned to work, enlarge the award to a maximum of six times such impairment rating, allowing the employer credit for permanent partial disability benefits already paid for the injury. The only reasonable interpretation of subsection (2) is that if the injured worker's later loss of employment is causally related to the injury for which an award has been made, the trial judge has the discretion to enlarge the award, if the application is timely made. Any other interpretation would be inconsistent with the long standing rule that an employer takes the employee as 2
Lake County Workers Compensation Panel 01/27/97
Ronald L. Shook v. Yates Construction Co., Inc., et al.
03S01-9602-CV-00011
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employee or claimant, Shook, contends the evidence preponderate against the trial judge's finding that his psychological condition did not arise out of his employment. The panel has concluded that the judgment should be affirmed. The claimant has a long history of mental illness, including severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and drug and alcohol abuse. He has been hospitalized and received out-patient care since his discharge from military
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 01/27/97
01A01-9606-CV-00251
Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/24/97
01A01-9606-CV-00251
Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/24/97
01A01-9607-CH-00336
Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/24/97
01A01-9601-CV-00036
Wilson County Court of Appeals 01/24/97
01A01-9607-CV-00316
Rutherford County Court of Appeals 01/24/97
01A01-9608-CH-00371
Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/24/97
Garland Powell vs. State
02C01-9612-CC-00483
Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/24/97
Clifford J. Kapp v. Transway, Inc.
02S01-9606-CV-00054
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court inaccordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer contends the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the employee suffered a permanent injury arising out of the employment. As discussed below, the panel has concluded the award of permanent disability benefits should be reversed. The employee or claimant, Kapp, was employed by the employer, Transway, on September 29, 1994 as a truck driver. On that day, the claimant and a co-worker were unloading a tub from a trailer when the co-worker dropped his end, causing the claimant to fall to the floor. He received emergency care at a nearby hospital and was released the same day. Since that time, he has seen numerous doctors. Dr. Michael Smelser, a general practitioner,treated the claimant for pain on three occasions. He performed a neurological examination, which was normal. We find in the record no evidence that Dr. Smelser found any permanent injury or impairment. Dr. Joseph P. Rowland, a neurosurgeon, saw the claimant three or four times. Dr. Rowland conducted a thorough neurological examination and ordered scientific tests, the results of which were normal. Dr. Mark S. Harriman, an orthopedic surgeon, was unable to find any objective evidence of injury. He found no evidence of permanent medical impairment. Dr. Roy Page examined the claimant and found no abnormality. Dr. James H. Owens conducted an extensive examination and found no basis for the claimant's complaint of pain. The only doctor who found any permanent impairment was Dr. Stephen L. Gipson, a pain management doctor. On the basis of complaints of chronic back pain, this doctor assigned a permanent impairment rating of eleven percent to the whole body. All of the medical evidence was by deposition or written reports. The claimant has not returned to work. 2
Decatur County Workers Compensation Panel 01/24/97
01C01-9601-CC-00039
Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/23/97
Marilyn L. Green v. Carlos Eugene Green
02A01-9601-CH-00014

In this divorce action, the trial court awarded Marilyn Green (the “Wife”) a divorce from Carlos Green (the “Husband”) upon the grounds of inappropriate marital conduct. Pursuant to a property settlement agreement, the parties agreed to sell the marital home by auction, pay the remaining indebtedness on the home and divide the proceeds equally. The parties agreed that the Wife would receive a Mercury automobile, a Ford Thunderbird automobile, the furniture, household furnishings and real estate located in the Eaton community. The parties agreed that the Husband would receive the farming equipment, guns, saddles and two pickup trucks. The trial court divided the remainder of the parties’ property and awarded the wife a one-half interest in the Husband’s retirement income and awarded the Husband a one-half interest in the Wife’s retirement income. The court further awarded each party a one-fourth interest in a fifty-seven acre tract of land in the Eaton community and awarded each party a one-sixth interest in twenty acres of corn planted as of the date of the final divorce hearing. The court further ordered that the livestock owned by the parties be sold and the proceeds divided equally. The Husband has appealed the judgment of the trial court arguing that the trial court’s division of property was improper. For the reasons stated hereafter, we reverse the judgment of the trial court as to the Wife’s interest in a fifty-seven acre tract of land in the Eaton community and affirm as to the Wife’s interest in twenty acres of planted corn.

Gibson County Court of Appeals 01/23/97
Eugene Smith vs. State
02C01-9701-CC-00018
Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/23/97
State vs. Rodney Bufford
02C01-9904-CC-00131
Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/23/97
Janice Bruce v. Tecumseh Products Company
02S01-9604-CV-00042
This workers' compensation appeal has b een referred to the Special W ork ers ' C om pe ns atio n A pp ea ls Panel of the Supreme Co urt in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and rep orting of find ings of fa ct an d co nc lusio ns of law . This is an ap pe al by the de fen da nt/e m ploy er, Tec umseh Products Company, from a judgment in fav or o f th e p lain tiff/a pp elle e, Janice Bruce, awarding workers' compensation benefits based on 45% permanent partial disability to the body as a wh ole. The judgment also held the d efen da nt res po nsib le for m edical expenses incurred by plain tiff for the care and treatment provided by Dr. Terry O. Harrison an d D r. Ra y W . He ster, p hys ician s no t sele cted by th e d efe nd an t. The defendant presents three issues for review: 1. Did the trial co urt e rr in find ing th at th e lim itation of two and one-half (2-1/2) times the ana tomical rating set out in T. C .A . S ec tion 5 -6- 24 1(a )(1 ) did no t ap ply to th is cause? 2. Does the ev ide nc e p rep on de rat e a ga in s t the trial co urt's findin g tha t Plain tiff susta ined a forty-five (45% ) percent pe rm an en t pa rtial disa bility to the body as a whole? 3. Did the tria l cou rt err in finding that Tecumseh should be resp on sible fo r the m ed ical ex pe nse s incu rred b y Pla intiff for the care and treatm ent pro vided by D r. Terry O . Ha rrison an d D r. Ra y W . He ster? Be fore ad dre ssin g th e iss ue s, w e will discuss the evidence found in the record. The plain tiff is a lady th irty-one yea rs o f ag e a t th e tim e o f tria l. 2
Henry County Workers Compensation Panel 01/23/97
Janet Carter v. Phoenix Restaurant Group of Tennessee, Inc., et al.
03S01-9602-CH-00013
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special W orkers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The plaintiff was seriously injured in a traffic crash on September 11, 1991. She settled her tort claim and proceeded to trial of this workers' compensation case which resulted in a finding that the `special errand' exception was applicable and that as a result of the accident and injuries she was 6 percent partially, permanently disabled and thus entitled to $183.34 per week during 24 weeks, temporary total benefits during 156 weeks, and medical expenses of $83,245.91. In accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _5-6-112(c), the defendant was credited with $1,., the amount of the tort settlement, which the plaintiff insists was only partially subrogable. Both parties appeal. The employer insists that because the traffic crash was not job-related, the plaintiff failed to prove her case. The plaintiff insists that because the employer did not recognize the compensability of her claim, and because she was not made whole by the third-party settlement, the full amount thereof should not have been subrogable. The plaintiff further insists that her attorney should have been awarded a fee "out of the third-party settlement fund." She also presents for review the issues of whether a finding of 6 percent permanent partial disability is adequate, and whether certain discretionary costs should have been allowed. I The facts are not in material dispute. The plaintiff, age 31, completed the eighth grade. She had worked in restaurants most of her adult life, and on July 1, 1991 was employed by Wendy's as an assistant manager trainee assigned to work at the North Roan location in Johnson City after a six-week stint in Kingsport. On September 1, 1991, a supervisor came to the North Roan location and announced that on the following day in Kingsport all of the North Roan employees, including the plaintiff, would be given a test which was mandatory. The plaintiff advised her supervisor that September 11 was her day off; the supervisor replied that this did not matter, "that everybody had to be there and would be paid for their time there." 2
Carter County Workers Compensation Panel 01/23/97
Rhonda May v. Great Central Insurance Company
02S01-9606-CV-00060
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court inaccordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer's insurer contends the award of permanent partial disability benefits based on forty percent to the body as a whole is excessive. As discussed below, the panel has concluded the judgment should be affirmed. The employee or claimant, May, is thirty years old and has a tenth grade education. She has no vocational training. She has worked in garment production and as a cashier and stocker for Save-A-Lot, the employer. On March 3, 1994, she felt a sharp pain in her lower back while lifting a pallet of flour at work. She has seen several doctors and received conservative care. Diagnostic tests revealed a herniated disc in her lower back, superimposed on pre-existing degenerative lumbosacral joint disease. She is overweight and has carpal tunnel syndrome, also pre-existing. One of the doctors assigned her a wholeperson permanent medical impairment rating of ten percent, using appropriate guidelines. The claimant returned to work on September 19, 1994 at the same wage she was receiving before the injury, but was medically restricted from lifting anything weighing more than twenty pounds, from standing more than forty-five minutes to one hour without a five to ten minute break, or from sitting more than forty-five minutes to one hour without a five to ten minute break. She was assigned to the meat department, where her work required her to exceed those limitations. She quit on October 3, 1994. She is presently working as a cashier for another food store, at a lower wage. The trial court awarded permanent partial disability benefits based on forty percent to the body as a whole. Appellate review is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6- 225(e)(2). Where the trial judge has seen and heard the witnesses, especially if issues of credibility and weight to be given oral testimony are involved, considerable deference must be accorded those circumstances on review. Humphrey v. David Witherspoon, Inc., 734 S.W.2d 315 (Tenn. 1987). For injuries arising after August 1, 1992, in cases where an injured worker is entitled to permanent partial disability benefits to the body as a whole and the pre-injury employer returns the employee to employment at a wage 2
Benton County Workers Compensation Panel 01/23/97
Vickie L. Parks v. Brother Industries, USA, Inc.
02S01-9605-CH-00046
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the injured employee or claimant, Parks, contends the evidence preponderates against the trial court's award of permanent partial disability benefits based on fifteen percent to the right arm for her repetitive trauma injury, and in favor of one based on seventy-five percent to the right arm. The panel has concluded that the judgment of the trial court should be affirmed. The claimant is forty-one years old and has a tenth grade education and a General Education Diploma. She gradually developed right carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive use of her right hand and wrist in a typewriter production line. After being treated or examined by six different doctors, none of whom satisfactorily diagnosed and treated her condition, she saw Dr. James T. Galyon, who surgically repaired her right wrist, returned her to work after a period of recovery, and estimated her permanent impairment at five percent to the right hand and wrist or four percent to the right upper extremity. The claimant returned to work for the employer for a year and a half, but has since quit because of another injury to another member. She later saw Dr. Joseph Boals for an evaluation. Dr. Boals assigned a permanent impairment rating of ten percent to the right upper extremity and restricted her from any work which would require repetitive use of or heavy lifting with the right arm, but otherwise encouraged her to work. The trial court found fifteen percent permanent partial disability to the right arm. Appellate review is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness of the findings of the trial court, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(2). Once the causation and permanency of an injury have been established by expert testimony, the trial judge may consider many pertinent factors, including age, job skills, education, training, duration of disability and job opportunities for the disabled, in addition to anatomical impairment, for the purpose of evaluating the extent of a claimant's permanent disability. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-241(a)(2). From our independent examination of the record and a consideration of those factors, to the extent they were established by the proof at trial, we do not find the evidence to preponderate against the findings of the trial judge. 2
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 01/23/97