Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 10/23/2014
Format: 10/23/2014
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Court of Appeals 10/22/96
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Court of Appeals 10/22/96
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Court of Appeals 10/22/96
Pamela D. Millsap-Fann v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Company
03S01-9605-CH-00052
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' 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 job-related accident from which the injury and disability arose occurred April 11, 1992. The case was heard January 12, 1996 resulting in a judgment that the plaintiff had sustained a 6 percent disability to her whole body. The employer appeals and presents for review the issue of whether the award is excessive. Our standard of review is de novo on the record accompanied with a presumption of the correctness of the judgment unless the evidence otherwise preponderates. TENN. R. APP. P. 13(d); T.C.A. _ 5-6-225. The application of this standard requires this Court to weigh in more depth the findings and conclusions of the trial courts in workers' compensation cases. Corcoran v. Foster Auto GMC, 746 S.W.2d 452, 456 (Tenn. 1988). The plaintiff was involved in a traffic accident during the course of her employment as a family counselor. Her most serious injury was a broken hip which required a prosthetic replacement by Dr. Thomas L. Huddleston, an orthopedic surgeon, who testified by deposition that the plaintiff had a 37_ percent permanent partial impairment to her left leg, extrapolated to 15 percent for the whole body. The plaintiff was 42 years old at the time of trial. She has a Master's Degree in her area of discipline. She was employed by the First Tennessee Human Resources Agency in November 199 as a HomeTies specialist and, following her surgery, she returned to work with no prescribed limitations or restrictions. The proof shows a litany of physical activities in which she may engage by way of demonstrating the extent and range of her recovery and present condition, which include but are not limited to driving a car, hiking, backpacking, playing tennis and performing all normal household functions. Her discharge summary was, "Her hip was free of pain . . . . the range of motion of her hip was excellent . . . ." Her immediate supervisor testified that she was able to perform all of her duties, and the
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/96
Rita Baker v. Ckr Industries, Inc.
01S01-9604-CV-00074
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The plaintiff is employed by CKR Industries, a Winchester company that makes rubber windshield and door sealers for Nissan. A piece of plywood fell on her on January 4, 1993, and she filed suit alleging that as a result, she is totally, permanently disabled. The trial court found otherwise and ruled that she has no permanent disability. Because the trial court's finding is fully supported by the evidence, we affirm the decision. The minor nature of the accident is one factor supporting the trial court's decision. The four foot-by-eight foot single sheet of plywood surrounded by a metal frame was being used as a bulletin board and was standing next to where the plaintiff worked. It only fell one or two feet onto her shoulder. The plaintiff did not seek any medical treatment for several days. She never missed any work on account of the accident that she alleges left her totally and permanently disabled. She now works ten-to-twelve hours a day, five days a week. The most reliable medical evidence does not support her claim of permanent disability. He primary treating physician was Dr. Ray Fambrough, an orthopedic surgeon in Huntsville, Alabama. He diagnosed the plaintiff as having "subacromial impingement" which is nothing more than bursitis of the shoulder. Dr. Fambrough concluded that the blow to the plaintiff's shoulder did not in itself cause the bursitis, but that it exacerbated it. He testified that any impairment from the blow to the shoulder would be negligible. -2-
Franklin County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/96
Anthony Neal Bates v. Cooper Industries, et al.
01S01-9604-CV-00065
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 employer and its insurer contend the evidence preponderates against the award of permanent partial disability benefits. As discussed below, the panel has concluded the judgment should be affirmed. The employee or claimant, Bates, is thirty-six years old and a high school graduate. He has done nursery, construction, farming, factory and supervisory work. On September, 4, 1992, while lifting a thirty to forty pound box of coil springs to fill a customer's order, he strained his upper back. After a brief period of recuperation, during which he was treated conservatively by a neurological surgeon, he returned to work with weight lifting restrictions. On May 26, 1994, he strained his lower back in another lifting accident at work and was treated by the same doctor. The doctor again treated the claimant conservatively and returned him to work. The treating doctor and two others to whom he was referred, one an orthopedist and one a pain management specialist, assigned zero percent permanent impairment, using appropriate guidelines. The claimant was referred by his attorney or his family physician to another orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed cervical and lumbar sprain and assigned a five to ten percent permanent whole person impairment. The disagreement is over whether the injury is in "category one" or "category two," as defined by the guidelines, which involves "a judgment call." The claimant has been terminated because the employer was unwilling to offer him a job within his lifting restrictions. A vocational expert has estimated the claimant's industrial disability at fifty-five to sixty percent. The claimant's own testimony is that he is able to work at a job not requiring repetitive or heavy lifting. The trial court awarded permanent partial disability benefits based on forty-five 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 of the findings of fact, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(2). This tribunal is required to conduct an independent examination of the evidence to determine where the preponderance of the evidence lies.
DeKalb County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/96
Stephen Baxendale v. Universal Underwriters Insurance
01S01-9605-CH-00097
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, Baxendale, contends (1) the award of permanent partial disability benefits is inadequate and (2) the trial court erred in computing his compensation rate. The employer and its insurer contend the trial court erred in finding the employee suffered a compensable injury by accident on June 6, 1994. As discussed below, the panel has concluded the award of permanent partial disability benefits should be modified and the judgment otherwise affirmed. The claimant is a thirty-five year old laborer with a ninth grade education. He failed a test for a GED. At the time of the claimed injury, he was earning $6.39 per hour. Beginning in October of 1992, he suffered back pain at work, but continued working while being conservatively treated for pain. At one time the treating physician assigned to him a four percent permanent whole person impairment rating. He was awarded permanent partial disability benefits based on ten percent to the body as a whole and returned to work as a laborer at the same wage rate he was earning before the injury. On June 6, 1994, he became disabled to work because of severe back pain and was diagnosed as having suffereda gradually developing ruptured disc. The doctor surgically removed the ruptured disc and estimated his permanent whole person impairment at nine percent, from appropriate guidelines. After recovering from the surgery, the claimant again returned to work at the same wage as before the disabling injury, but with significant lifting, bending, stooping and twisting restrictions. Another orthopedic surgeon evaluated the claimant and assigned a whole person impairment rating of ten percent, using different but equally appropriate guidelines. The claimant continued to suffer back pain while working as a warehouseman. Upon consideration of the above facts, the chancellor awarded permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of ten percent to the body as a whole for the June 6, 1994 injury, and fixed the claimant's compensation rate at $159.47 per week. Appellate review is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness of the findings of fact, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(2). This tribunal is required to conduct an independent examination of the record to determine where the preponderance of the evidence lies.
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/96
Robert Lively v. Textron, Inc.
01S01-9604-CH-00070
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The plaintiff appeals from the trial court's finding that the permanent impairment did not result from 1992 injuries at Textron Aerostructures. Finding no error in the trial court's decision, we affirm. Dr. Wesley Coker started treating the plaintiff in March 1994 for herniated discs that were causing nerve root pressure. The plaintiff was in bad shape when he first saw him, according to Coker, as he had to be helped into the doctor's office and told the doctor about two months of excruciating pain. After switching to the care of a chiropractor, the plaintiff returned to Coker who performed surgery in June 1994. Dr. Coker testified that the plaintiff suffers a 13% whole body impairment. But Dr. Coker did not offer any testimony about what caused the plaintiff's back trouble. The issue in this case is whether the plaintiff established by a preponderance of the evidence that his impairment resulted from two injuries at Textron, one on March 5, 1992 and another on October 3, 1992. The trial court decided that the plaintiff did not prove his case, and there is ample evidence to support the decision. The plaintiff and his wife were injured in a car wreck on the way to work on the morning of February 1, 1994. The plaintiff had worked regularly before the accident, but did not work any after it. This tends to suggest that the car wreck, not the injuries years earlier, caused the back trouble Dr. Coker treated. The plaintiff called Textron following the wreck to report that he was not coming to work. The reason, he said, was that he slipped a disc in his back while -2-
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/96
Insurance Company of North America v. Ronnie Storie
01S01-9602-CV-00037
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. The issue presented by this appeal is whether the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the employee's injury was proximately caused by intoxication. As discussed below, the panel has concluded the judgment should be reversed and the case remanded for an award of benefits. The claimant or employee, Storie, is forty-five years old and has an eighth grade education. On March 18, 1993, he reported to work at 6:3 p.m. at Kentucky Apparel to perform his usual duties as a maintenance mechanic. During the course of the shift, he needed to obtain some copper tubing and light bulbs to perform his duties. Those supplies were stored above a dropped ceiling above the maintenance office and accessible by a ladder and some loose boards. The claimant negotiated the ladder without a problem, but slipped and fell when one of the loose boards moved. He fell through the ceiling and onto a concrete floor in the men's rest room below, frightening a user, who beat a hasty exit and reported the accident. The claimant suffered multiple injuries, including a broken arm and back injury. We find in the record no direct evidence the claimant was intoxicated at the time. In fact, he had apparently performed his duties satisfactorily until the accident occurred. The injurious accident occurred shortly before 2:45 a. m. on March 19th. After some delay, he was driven to the Fentress County Hospital by a co-worker, arriving at about 3: a. m. When no doctor was available to treat his arm injury, he was transported to the Putnam County Hospital. When he arrived there at about 6:3 a. m., he smelled of alcohol and a blood alcohol test revealed an alcohol content of approximately .2 percent. The claimant insists he consumed the alcohol, retrieved from his own vehicle at the plant and provided by a friend while waiting for medical attention, after the accident, to help relieve pain associated with his injuries. The trial court disallowed the claim as being proximately caused by intoxication. Appellate review is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness of the findings of fact, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6- 225(e)(2). This tribunal is required to conduct an independent examination of the record to determine where the preponderance of the evidence lies.
Fentress County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/96
In April 1989. In The Present Appeal, The Petitioner, Relying In Part Upon State v. Roger
02C01-9610-CC-00333
Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/21/96
State v. Roger Dale Hill, No. 01C01-9508-Cc-00267 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 20, 1996),
02C01-9610-CC-00335
Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/21/96
03A01-9607-CV-00227
Court of Appeals 10/21/96
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Court of Appeals 10/21/96
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Court of Appeals 10/21/96
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Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/21/96
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Court of Appeals 10/21/96
01A01-9602-CV-00070
Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/18/96
01A01-9604-CH-00181
Coffee County Court of Appeals 10/18/96
Honorable Hamilton v. Gayden, Jr., Judge
01A01-9605-CV-00201
Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/18/96
01A01-9603-PB-00093
Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/18/96
01A01-9604-CH-00149
Court of Appeals 10/18/96
01A01-9604-CH-00191
Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/18/96
03C01-9506-CR-00169
Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/96
State vs. John Wayne Slate
03C01-9511-CC-00352
Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/96
State vs. John Wayne Slate
03C01-9511-CC-00352
Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/96