Supreme Court Upholds Award to Nurse for Injuries Sustained in Fall at Work

April 24, 2013

The Tennessee Supreme Court today upheld the trial court’s award of compensation to a Memphis-area nurse who sustained injuries when she fell at the health-care facility where she was working.

In August 2009, Marta Vandall was walking in the hallway at Allenbrooke Nursing & Rehab in Memphis when she fell, fracturing her right shoulder. She later testified at trial that her foot stuck to the floor as she was walking, causing her to fall to the ground and sustain injuries. Representatives from Allenbrooke Nursing & Rehab testified that they inspected the floor after Ms. Vandall’s fall and did not find any substance that would have caused her fall.

The trial court determined that Ms. Vandall’s injury occurred due to a condition of her employment and awarded her benefits based on 18% permanent partial disability as well as temporary total disability benefits, past medical expenses, future medical benefits, and other expenses.

The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court’s finding that the fall was not merely of some unknown origin but was caused by some hazard related to Ms. Vandall’s employment.  Ms. Vandall was therefore entitled to compensation for her injury.

Justice William C. Koch, Jr. disagreed with the majority of the Court, writing in his dissenting opinion that Ms. Vandall failed to prove that an employment hazard caused her fall and thus, Aurora Healthcare is not liable to compensate her for the injury as work-related.

To read the Marta Vandall v. Aurora Healthcare Opinion authored by Justice Janice M. Holder, and the dissent by Justice Koch, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.