Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Workers' Compensation Opinions

Format: 06/17/2019
Format: 06/17/2019
Kenneth M. Wright v. National Strategic Protective Services, LLC et al.
E2018-01019-SC-R3-WC

Kenneth M. Wright was employed by National Strategic Protective Services, LLC, as a security officer at the Department of Energy, Oak Ridge facility. While participating in a training exercise, he injured his neck, which required surgery. The trial court found Mr. Wright was entitled to increased permanent partial disability benefits pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-207(3)(B) and then awarded extraordinary benefits pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-242(a)(2). The employer has appealed the award of extraordinary benefits. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Judge Lisa A. Lowe
Workers Compensation Panel 05/23/19
Ameenah House v. Amazon.Com, Inc.
E2017-02183-SC-R3-WC

An employee filed workers’ compensation claims against her employer for alleged work-related back and leg injuries. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims (the trial court) ruled against the employee, finding that the employee failed to show that her alleged injuries were work-related. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board affirmed the trial court’s decision. The employee appealed. This appeal was referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. After careful consideration, we affirm the judgment of the Appeals Board and adopt its opinion as set forth in the attached Appendix.

Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon Lee
Originating Judge: Judge Thomas L. Wyatt
Workers Compensation Panel 05/16/19
Shirley Keen v. Ingles Markets, Inc.
E2018-00306-SC-R3-WC

In 1997, an employee sustained a workers’ compensation injury. In 1999, the chancery court approved a settlement of the claim, which in part required the employer to pay for reasonable and necessary future medical treatment. In 2016, the employer declined to provide certain treatment based on the results of a utilization review under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-124. The chancery court granted the employee’s motion to compel the medical treatment and held in abeyance her request for attorney fees under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-204(b)(2). The employee filed a second motion to compel because of a dispute about whether the first order to compel required the employer to provide the employee with a particular medication. The chancery court granted the second motion to compel and awarded the employee attorney fees, but in a lesser amount than the employee had requested. Both parties appealed. The employee contends that the chancery court erred in awarding attorney fees by failing to make findings based on the factors in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8, Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5(a) (RPC 1.5(a)). The employer contends the chancery court erred by granting the second motion to compel treatment. 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 under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We vacate the chancery court’s award of attorney fees and remand for a determination of attorney fees in accordance with the factors set forth in RPC 1.5(a). We affirm the chancery court’s judgment granting the second motion to compel.

Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon Lee
Originating Judge: Chancellor Elizabeth C. Asbury
Campbell County Workers Compensation Panel 05/14/19
Jerry Coleman v. Armstrong Hardwood Flooring Company ET AL.
W2017-02498-SC-R3-WC

In this appeal from the judgment of the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims, the employer and its insurer argue that the employee did not establish by a preponderance of the evidence that his injury arose primarily out of the course and scope of his employment, and that the employee’s physician expert did not use an appropriate method to opine on the impairment rating for the employee’s right ear. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Originating Judge: Judge Allen Phillips
Workers Compensation Panel 04/12/19
Ricky Armstrong v. Armstrong Hardwood Flooring Company
W2018-00427-SC-R3-WC

Ricky Armstrong (“Employee”) alleged that he injured his lower back, neck, and left shoulder in the course and scope of his employment with Armstrong Hardwood Flooring Company (“Employer”). The trial court determined that Employee was permanently and totally disabled. Employer’s 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree
Originating Judge: Judge James F. Butler
Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 04/05/19
Salvador Sandoval v. Mark Williamson, Et Al.
M2018-01148-SC-R3-WC

Salvador Sandoval (“Employee”), an undocumented immigrant, suffered an injury while working for Tennessee Steel Structures (“Employer”). The parties settled the claim, and Employee failed to return to work at the end of the initial compensation period. Employee now seeks additional permanent disability benefits pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated 50-6-207(3)(B) because Employee cannot return to work after the injury as he is not eligible or authorized to work in the United States under Federal Immigration Law. Employee challenges the constitutionality of Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-207(3)(F) which does not allow for additional benefits set forth in subdivision (3)(B) for any employee who is not eligible or authorized to work in the United States. The Court of Workers’ Compensations Claims held that it had no jurisdiction to make this determination and denied Employee’s request for increased benefits. Employee appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel pursuant to Tennessee Rule of the Supreme Court 51 section 1. We affirm the judgment of the trial court and hold that Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-207(3)(F) is constitutional.

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Judge Joshua Baker
Workers Compensation Panel 03/28/19
Venture Express v. Jerry Frazier
W2018-00344-SC-R3-WC

Jerry Frazier alleged that he sustained a compensable injury in the course of his work as a truck driver for Venture Express. The trial court held that Mr. Frazier’s January 29, 2014 accident at work caused his neck, back and mental injuries, that the 1.5 times cap on permanent disability benefits did not apply, and that Mr. Frazier was permanently and totally disabled. Venture Express has appealed. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Authoring Judge:
Originating Judge:
Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 03/27/19
Stacy Clark v. Charms, L.L.C.
W2017-02552-SC-R3-WC

Stacy Clark (“Employee”) alleged that she injured her back and left knee in the course and scope of her employment with Charms, L.L.C. (“Employer”). The trial court determined that Employee suffered a compensable injury to her left knee and awarded 21 percent permanent partial disability, temporary total disability, medical expenses, future medical expenses, discretionary costs, and attorneys’ fees. The court made no award for the injury to her back. Employer’s 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree
Originating Judge: Judge William C. Cole
Lauderdale County Workers Compensation Panel 03/19/19
Donald R. Loveless v. City of New Johnsonville, Et Al.
M2018-00523-SC-R3-WC

Donald R. Loveless (“Employee”) alleged he sustained a compensable injury on February 9, 2014, when he fell in the course and scope of his employment with the City of New Johnsonville (“Employer”). Following trial, the trial court awarded permanent partial disability benefits. Employer appeals, contending Employee did not sustain a compensable injury. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We reverse the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace
Humphreys County Workers Compensation Panel 02/15/19
Bettye Shores v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00954-SC-R3-WC

Bettye Shores (“Employee”) alleged she suffered a mental injury during the course and scope of her employment with the State of Tennessee (“Employer”) when a reprimand from her supervisor “lit up” her preexisting post-traumatic stress disorder. Employer moved to dismiss the claim, asserting Employee failed to give timely notice of her alleged injury as mandated by Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-201.  After a hearing, the Commissioner granted Employer’s motion to dismiss.  Employee has appealed. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51.  We affirm the Commissioner’s judgment. 

Authoring Judge: Special Judge Ross H. Hicks
Originating Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner, TN Claims Commission
Workers Compensation Panel 02/12/19
Tina E. Hayes v. Costco and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
W2017-02130-SC-R3-WC

Tina E. Hayes (“Employee”) alleged that she sustained a compensable injury to her left knee on April 8, 2015, in the course of her work as a stocker for Costco (“Employer”). She alleged that this injury required her to undergo a left knee replacement surgery. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims held that Employee failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence a compensable injury or aggravation arising primarily out of and in the course and scope of her employment with Employer. Employee has appealed. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Authoring Judge:
Originating Judge:
Workers Compensation Panel 02/12/19
Mohammad Hamad v. Real Time Staffing Services, LLC, Et Al.
M2017-02538-SC-R3-WC

In April 2011, Mohammad Hamad (“Employee”) was working at a Pillsbury factory through the defendant agency, Real Time Staffing Services (“Employer”), when he slipped on a wet floor and tore his left meniscus. After undergoing knee surgery, he returned to work at the factory. In September 2012, Employee once again was injured while lifting a heavy box. He sustained an injury to his left shoulder and an inguinal hernia. Employee has not returned to work since this second injury. Employee filed suit, arguing that he was totally and permanently disabled. The trial court found Employee only permanently partially disabled. Employee timely appealed, arguing that this Court should: (1) reverse and remand to the trial court to reconsider his contention that he is permanently and totally disabled under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-207(4)(B); (2) increase his disability award under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-242 (“the Escape Clause”); or (3) increase his disability award under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Originating Judge: Judge J. Mark Rogers
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 01/30/19
Joe Butler v. Tennessee Municipal League Risk Management Pool
E2017-01981-SC-R3-WC

Joe Butler (“Employee”) alleged he developed invasive pulmonary aspergillosis due to his exposure to the aspergillus fungus during the course and scope of his employment with the Oneida Water Department (“Employer”).  After a trial, the court concluded Employee failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence his work activities were the proximate cause of his injury.  Employee appeals, arguing the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s findings. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51.  After review, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings.

Authoring Judge: Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Judge John D. McAfee
Scott County Workers Compensation Panel 01/16/19
Anna Maria Butler v. McKee Foods Corporation
E2017-02471-SC-R3-WC

Anna Maria Butler (“Employee”) alleged that she sustained a compensable injury on May 2, 2012, in the course and scope of her employment with McKee Foods Corporation (“Employer”). The trial court found that Employee sustained a compensable injury and awarded permanent total disability benefits. Employer has appealed that decision, arguing that Employee’s injury was not causally related to her employment. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree
Originating Judge: Chancellor Pamela Fleenor
Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 12/06/18
Steak N Shake v. Thomas Yeager
M2017-01558-SC-R3-WC

This cause of action originated when Thomas Yeager (“Employee”) sustained an on the job injury when he slipped and fell while performing duties in the course and scope of his employment with Steak N Shake (“Employer”). Employee was originally treated at Hendersonville Medical Center in the Hendersonville Medical Center Emergency Department. Employee was treated for acute neck and back pains and was released on said day with limiting instructions as well as various prescriptions. On October 21, 2012, Employee returned to the emergency department with abdominal pain. It was determined that Employee had a gastrointestinal bleed. Employer maintained that neither the abdominal pain nor gastrointestinal bleed and resulting medical treatment were related to the work injury. After a request for assistance and based on medical records then available, the Department of Labor ordered Employer to pay medical expenses arising from said gastrointestinal condition. Employer brought this action, seeking recovery of payments made pursuant to the Department of Labor Order. Employer filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which was denied by the trial court. After certain stipulations were entered, a trial was had on the merits at which time the trial court found that Employee’s gastrointestinal bleeding and accompanying treatment was caused by medications prescribed to treat the initial work-related injury. Employer has appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Worker’s Compensation Appeals Panel for hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law, pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We reverse the trial court judgment.  

Authoring Judge: Special Judge J. Russell Parkes
Originating Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 11/26/18
Steak N Shake v. Thomas Yeager
M2017-01558-SC-R3-WC

This cause of action originated when Thomas Yeager (“Employee”) sustained an on the job injury when he slipped and fell while performing duties in the course and scope of his employment with Steak N Shake (“Employer”). Employee was originally treated at Hendersonville Medical Center in the Hendersonville Medical Center Emergency Department. Employee was treated for acute neck and back pains and was released on said day with limiting instructions as well as various prescriptions. On October 21, 2012, Employee returned to the emergency department with abdominal pain. It was determined that Employee had a gastrointestinal bleed. Employer maintained that neither the abdominal pain nor gastrointestinal bleed and resulting medical treatment were related to the work injury. After a request for assistance and based on medical records then available, the Department of Labor ordered Employer to pay medical expenses arising from said gastrointestinal condition. Employer brought this action, seeking recovery of payments made pursuant to the Department of Labor Order. Employer filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which was denied by the trial court. After certain stipulations were entered, a trial was had on the merits at which time the trial court found that Employee’s gastrointestinal bleeding and accompanying treatment was caused by medications prescribed to treat the initial work-related injury. Employer has appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Worker’s Compensation Appeals Panel for hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law, pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We reverse the trial court judgment.

  

Authoring Judge: Special Judge J. Russell Parkes
Originating Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 11/26/18
Mid-Cumberland Human Resource Agency v. Brenda Binnion
M2017-00970-SC-R3-WC

Employee, a commercial van driver, suffered an impact injury in April 2011 to her neck after assisting a passenger into Employer’s van. Employee continued to work for three months. Employee timely provided notice to Employer. Employee was diagnosed as suffering from a condition called torticollis. Employee received temporary total disability benefits from July 2011 until May 2016. Employee reached Maximum Medical Improvement in November 2015. Trial was held in February 2017 to determine the existence and extent of Employee’s permanent disability. Based on Employee’s medical treatment history, testimony by medical experts, and Employee’s testimony regarding her ability to function day-to-day, the chancery court found that Employee was permanently and totally disabled. Employer has appealed. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Special Judge J. Russell Parkes
Originating Judge: Chancellor Charles K.Smith
Wilson County Workers Compensation Panel 10/31/18
Alcoa, Inc. v. Georgette McCroskey, Individually and as surviving spouse of Marcus McCroskey
E2018-00087-SC-R3-WC

Georgette McCroskey alleged her deceased husband, Marcus McCroskey (“Employee”), died from pancreatic cancer on June 15, 2012, as the result of work-related exposure to coal tar pitch while employed by Alcoa, Inc. (“Employer”). Following the trial, the trial court held Mrs. McCroskey had not carried her burden of proof on the issue of whether or not Employee’s pancreatic cancer was caused by his work-related exposure to coal tar pitch. Mrs. McCroskey appeals the decision, arguing the preponderance of evidence supports the conclusion Employee’s work-related exposure was a substantial contributing factor in his development of pancreatic cancer and death. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Judge David R. Duggan
Blount County Workers Compensation Panel 10/30/18
Rita Faye Hurst v. Claiborne County Hospital and Nursing Home et al.
E2017-01745-SC-R3-WC

An employee filed suit for workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained in a work-related motor vehicle collision. The trial court later dismissed the case with full prejudice based on a settlement approved by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (the “Department”). Over seven years later, the employee filed a motion in another workers’ compensation case to compel medical benefits for her injuries related to the collision. The trial court granted the employee’s motion to compel, referencing in its order this case number (#15,665) and the case number in which the motion was filed (#13,393). In a separate order, the trial court awarded the employee her attorney fees and costs. We vacate the trial court’s orders, finding that the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to compel medical benefits for the employee’s physical injuries.

Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon Lee
Originating Judge: Judge Elizabeth C. Asbury
Claiborne County Workers Compensation Panel 10/24/18
Rita Faye Hurst v. Claiborne County Hospital and Nursing Home et al.
E2017-01598-SC-R3-WC

An employee sued for workers’ compensation benefits alleging two distinct injuries on different dates: physical injuries sustained in a work-related motor vehicle collision in 2001 and mental injuries from an incident involving a severely abused infant in 2000. The employee settled her mental injury claim. The trial court’s judgment approving the settlement included future medical benefits for the employee’s mental injuries, but none for physical injuries related to the collision. Nine years later, the employee filed a motion to compel medical benefits for her physical injuries related to the collision. The trial court, in an order referencing this case (#13,393) and a later-filed case (#15,665), ordered the employer to provide medical benefits for the employee’s physical injuries. In a separate order, the trial court awarded the employee her attorney fees and costs. We vacate the trial court’s orders, finding that the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to compel medical benefits for the employee’s physical injuries.

Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon Lee
Originating Judge: Judge Elizabeth C. Asbury
Claiborne County Workers Compensation Panel 10/24/18
Charles Steven Blocker v. Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, et al.
E2017-01656-SC-R3-WC

Charles Steven Blocker (“Employee”) sustained a compensable injury to his cervical spine while working for Powell Valley Electric Cooperative (“Employer”) in November 2010. After returning to work, Employee suffered a second, gradual injury to his cervical spine in January 2013, which rendered him permanently and totally disabled. Employee filed an action against Employer and the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Second Injury Fund (“the Fund”). The trial court initially found Employee’s 2013 injury caused 9% vocational disability and apportioned 9% of the award to Employer and 91% to the Fund. After the Fund appealed, the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel remanded the case for the trial court “to reassess Employee’s 2013 vocational disability” and “to make the appropriate assignment of the award to Employer and the Fund.” On remand, the trial court found the 2013 injury caused 20% vocational disability and apportioned 20% of the award to Employer and 80% to the Fund. The Fund again appeals, asserting the trial court incorrectly apportioned the award. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree
Originating Judge: Judge Elizabeth C. Asbury
Claiborne County Workers Compensation Panel 10/24/18
Darry Osborne v. Starrun, Inc., et al.
E2018-00282-SC-R3-WC

A truck driver, whose employer had no workers’ compensation insurance coverage, was injured after falling from his employer’s truck while tarping a load of goods at a manufacturer’s facility. The truck driver filed a workers’ compensation claim against the manufacturer, asserting that the manufacturer was the truck driver’s statutory employer under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-113 (2014 & Supp. 2017). The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims granted the manufacturer’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the truck driver failed to establish that the manufacturer undertook work for an entity other than itself, retained the right of control over the conduct of the work, or that the truck driver’s conduct in tarping the load was part of the manufacturer’s regular business or the same type of work usually performed by its employees. After review, we affirm.

Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon Lee
Originating Judge: Judge Brian Addington
Workers Compensation Panel 10/19/18
Susie Plunk v. Professional Home Health Care Services
W2018-00025-SC-WCM-WC

Susie Plunk (“Employee”) alleged that she sustained a compensable injury in the course and scope of her employment with Professional Home Health Care Services (“Employer”). Employer filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that Employee’s claim should be dismissed for lack of service of process or insufficient process. The trial court granted Employer’s motion finding that Employer was not served with process, Employer had sufficiently raised failure of service of process as a defense, and Employer had not waived that defense by participating in the litigation. Employee has appealed that decision. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We reverse the decision of the trial court and remand the case for a trial on the issues.

Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree, Jr.
Originating Judge: C. Creed McGinley
Hardin County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/18
Vicki Gandee v. Zurich North America Insurance Company
W2017-01523-SC-WCM-WC

Vicki Gandee (“Employee”) sustained a knee injury in 2004 during the course of her employment with Christ United Methodist Church (“Employer”). Employee returned to work after her injury; however, she left her job in April 2006 before reaching maximum medical improvement. Employee filed this claim against Employer’s worker’s compensation carrier (“Insurer”) maintaining she failed to make a meaningful return to work. Employee was seeking permanent partial disability benefits at six times the impairment rating. The parties disputed whether Employee was terminated for misconduct or resigned due to her injury. The trial court found the claim compensable but capped the award at two and one-half times the impairment rating having concluded Employee was terminated for misconduct. Employee appeals claiming the trial court erred in finding she was terminated for misconduct; in applying the lower cap; and in adopting Insurer’s expert’s impairment rating. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the trial court’s decision to adopt the impairment rating assigned by Insurer’s expert; however, we reverse the trial court’s decision to cap the award based on misconduct and remand for modification of the award.

Authoring Judge: Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Judge Walter L. Evans
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 09/19/18
C. K. Smith, Jr. v. Goodall Buildings, Inc. Et Al.
M2017-01935-SC-R3-WC

C.K. Smith, Jr. (“Employee”) suffered a compensable shoulder injury and was awarded lifetime medical care pursuant to a settlement agreement with Goodall Buildings, Inc. (“Employer”). Employee suffered from long-term chronic pain because of his injury and was referred to Dr. Jeffrey Hazlewood for pain management. Upon entering the care of Dr. Hazlewood, Employee was already prescribed a high dosage of opioids to manage his pain. Dr. Hazlewood continued this treatment, slowly raising Employee’s prescription. However, Dr. Hazlewood began to have concerns about Employee forming an addiction, and new medical guidelines on pain management indicated that Employee was taking too high a dosage of opioids. Dr. Hazlewood recommended weaning Employee off opioids, or at least lowering his dosage. In response, Employee left the care of Dr. Hazlewood and filed a motion for a new panel of physicians. That motion was heard for the first time almost two years later. The trial court granted Employee’s motion and ordered Employer to provide a new panel of physicians. Employer appealed, arguing Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-204(j) precludes Employee from receiving a new panel of physicians. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We reverse the judgment of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Originating Judge: Judge Clara W. Byrd
Trousdale County Workers Compensation Panel 09/14/18