Workers' Compensation Opinions

Format: 04/27/2018
Format: 04/27/2018
Sherilyne D. Duty v. East Tennessee Children's Hospital Association, Inc.
E2017-02027-SC-R3-WC

Sherilyne Duty (“Employee”) was employed by East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (“Employer”) as a unit secretary. On March 22, 2006, she was assaulted by a visitor in the waiting area of the pediatric intensive care unit (“PICU”). She sustained an injury to her eye and developed post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) as a result of the incident. A settlement was reached as to all aspects of her workers’ compensation except the issue of temporary total disability. The settlement was approved by the Department of Labor, and Employee then brought this action seeking temporary disability benefits from July 2007 until November 2015. Employer contended Employee was not entitled to benefits because she was able to work and because she had been terminated for cause. The trial court denied the claim, finding Employee’s medical proof was not credible. Employee appeals, contending the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s 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 affirm the judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Chancellor Michael W. Moyer
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 04/18/18
James Harrison v General Motors, LLC, Et Al.
M2016-02522-SC-R3-WC

James Harrison sustained a compensable injury to his right shoulder while employed by General Motors, LLC (“GM”). He filed a workers’ compensation claim contending he was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the injury. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims found he was not permanently and totally disabled and awarded permanent partial disability benefits in accordance with the statutory scheme. Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-207(3)(A) & (B) (2014 & 2017 Supp.) Mr. Harrison appeals contending the evidence preponderates against the finding he is not totally disabled. 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.

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Judge Dale A. Tipps
Workers Compensation Panel 02/20/18
James Green v. Kellogg Companies, et al.
W2017-00549-SC-R3-WC

James Green (“Employee”) alleged that he sustained a compensable injury in the course of his employment with Kellogg Companies (“Employer”). After a compensation hearing, the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims found that Employee did not sustain his burden of proof and dismissed the claim. Employee has appealed from 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 affirm the judgment.

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge William B. Acree, Jr.
Originating Judge: Judge Robert V. Durham
Workers Compensation Panel 02/20/18
Tristar Centennial Medical Center v. Dana C. Pugh
M2016-02470-SC-R3-WC

Dana Pugh (“Employee”) and Tristar Centennial Medical Center (“Employer’) settled a claim for a compensable back injury to Employee after participating in and failing to resolve their dispute at a Benefit Review Conference (“BRC”). Employee later filed a motion to compel Employer to approve a surgical procedure recommended by her authorized physician and for attorney’s fees. Employer approved the surgery after another physician conducted a review of Employee’s medical records. Employee subsequently reset her motion, and the trial court awarded her attorney’s fees. 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 conclude that the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction, vacate the judgment, and dismiss the case.

Authoring Judge: Judge Hamilton V. Gayden, Jr.
Originating Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 02/15/18
Louis Garassino v. Western Express, Inc., Et Al.
M2016-02431-SC-R3-WC

Louis Garassino (“Employee”) sustained a compensable lower back injury in the course of his work as a truck driver for Western Express (“Employer”). After a compensation hearing, the trial court awarded benefits to Employee. The order also awarded discretionary costs, in an unspecified amount. The parties disagreed over the issue. Employee filed a motion to award discretionary costs, including the fees of his examining doctor for reviewing records and conducting the examination. The trial court awarded those fees. Employer appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, which reversed the trial court as to the award of those two items. Employee has appealed, and the appeal has been assigned to this Panel pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.  

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Judge Joshua Baker
Workers Compensation Panel 02/08/18
Billy W. Tankersly v. Batesville Casket Company, Inc., Et Al.
M2016-02389-SC-R3-WC

Billy Tankersley (“Employee”) worked for Batesville Casket Company (“Employer”) for thirty-seven years. He injured his right shoulder and arm on December 12, 2012. He ultimately was unable to return to work. He filed this action in the Chancery Court for Coffee County seeking permanent total disability benefits. The trial court found him to be permanently and totally disabled. The award was apportioned 90% to Employer and 10% to the Second Injury Fund. 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: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Originating Judge: Judge Vanessa Jackson
Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 01/26/18
Tommy B. Wyatt v. Mueller Company
E2016-02360-SC-R3-WC

Mueller Company (“Employer”) manufactures cast iron valves and related objects. Tommy Wyatt (“Employee”) worked for Employer for nineteen years, primarily in the cleaning room where flawed cast iron parts are chipped and ground. The job required moving and manipulating heavy objects. After suffering from low back pain for approximately three years, Employee underwent surgery in 2006. He returned to his regular job without restrictions. However, his symptoms persisted, and he underwent spinal fusion surgery in July 2013. In March 2014, he notified Employer he was seeking benefits for an alleged gradual injury. After investigation, Employer denied the claim contending Employee’s condition was caused by preexisting degenerative disease in his spine and further asserting Employee had failed to give timely notice. The trial court ruled in favor of Employee and awarded permanent total disability benefits. Employer appeals. 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: Pamela A. Fleenor
Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 01/22/18
Deborah Goodman v. Schwarz Paper Company ET AL.
W2016-02594-SC-R3-WC

Deborah Goodman (“Employee”) sustained a back injury in the course of her work for Schwarz Paper Company (“Employer”). It is undisputed that the injury was compensable. All medical expenses were paid by Employer. Employee continued to work after her injury. The sole issue presented to the trial court was whether Employee successfully rebutted the presumption of correctness attached to the authorized treating physician’s impairment rating. Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-204(k)(7) (2014 & Supp. 2017). After a compensation hearing, the trial court ruled that Employee had not overcome the presumption. Benefits were awarded based on the treating physician’s impairment rating. 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: Justice Roger A. Page
Originating Judge: Judge Amber E. Luttrell
Workers Compensation Panel 01/18/18
Gregory E. Pope v. Nebco of Cleveland, Inc., et al.
E2017-00254-SC-R3-WC

The Plaintiff, Gregory E. Pope, filed this action for workers’ compensation benefits in the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims (“trial court”) against his former employer, Nebco of Cleveland, Inc., d/b/a Toyota of Cleveland (“Toyota” or “the dealership”). In 2014, Mr. Pope suffered a severe knee injury while competing in a “mud run” charity event sponsored by his employer and other local businesses. During trial, Toyota argued that Mr. Pope’s injury was not compensable because it arose from his voluntary participation in a non-work-related activity. The trial court determined that Mr. Pope’s injury was compensable and awarded him medical benefits. On post-trial motion, the trial court also increased the amount of Mr. Pope’s awarded attorney’s fees. Toyota appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (“Appeals Board”), which reversed on the issue of compensability as well as the accompanying award of attorney’s fees. Mr. Pope subsequently appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which referred this case to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. In this appeal, Mr. Pope challenges the Appeals Board’s determination on the issue of compensability and raises two constitutional challenges to the statutes establishing the Appeals Board. We determine that Mr. Pope’s constitutional challenges to the statutes establishing the Appeals Board are without merit. Following our thorough review of the record, we also affirm the Appeals Board’s reversal and dismissal of the case on the grounds that Mr. Pope’s injury is not compensable.

Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Originating Judge: Judge Thomas L. Wyatt
Workers Compensation Panel 01/16/18
Lloyd Michael Harris, Jr. v. Mastec North America, Inc., Et Al.
M2016-02307-SC-R3-WC

In March 2004, the trial court entered a final order finding the employee permanently and totally disabled and awarding benefits of $274.49 per week “until he is eligible for full benefits in the Old Age Insurance Benefit Program under the Social Security Act.” The trial court also ordered that 180 weeks of benefits and attorney’s fees would be paid to the employee in a lump sum. In May 2016, the employer filed a motion to amend, alleging that the order should have reflected the employee’s retirement age as sixty-five (65) and should have stated “with specificity when [the employer] shall receive a credit for the commuted portion of the award.” The trial court found that the motion was untimely and that, in any event, the final order provided the employee with weekly benefits “through the date of his eligibility for full benefits in the Old Age Insurance Benefit Program under the Social Security Act as of the date of the entry of the Final Judgment,” i.e., age sixty-seven (67). We affirm the trial court’s judgment. 

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace
Cheatham County Workers Compensation Panel 01/09/18
Michael Mayuric v. Huff & Puff Trucking, Inc., Et Al.
M2017-00102-SC-R3-WC

Michael Mayuric (“Employee”) was employed by Huff & Puff Trucking, Inc. (“Employer”) as an over-the-road truck driver. While driving through Minnesota, his truck slid off the road. He developed post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) after the accident. He brought this action, alleging that he was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the accident. Employer denied that Employee was totally disabled. The trial court found that Employee had sustained 80% permanent partial disability from the incident. 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.

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson
Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 01/04/18
Jamie Jordan v. City of Murfreesboro
M2016-02446-SC-R3-WC

Jamie Jordan (“Employee”) is employed by the City of Murfreesboro (“Employer”) as a trash collector. He allegedly sustained a low back injury on May 22, 2012, when lifting a wet sofa into a refuse truck. Employer denied his claim for workers’ compensation benefits claiming, both, he failed to provide timely notice of his injury and his symptoms were caused by a preexisting condition. The trial court held Employee sustained a compensable injury and awarded 6% permanent partial disability benefits. Employer appeals. 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.

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Chancellor Howard W. Wilson
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 12/28/17
T & B Trucking v. Terry Pigue ET AL.
W2016-01194-SC-WCM-WC

The employee in this case worked for the employer as a truck driver. In 2003, the employee sustained compensable work-related injuries to his hand and neck. After neck surgery, the employee returned to work. In October 2008, the employee claimed that he sustained compensable work-related injuries to his shoulder and cervical spine. The employer paid temporary benefits but disputed whether the claimed injuries arose out of and in the course of employment. The employer filed a petition in the trial court seeking a determination of its obligations to pay further benefits. The parties submitted the deposition testimony of several physicians, who gave conflicting opinions about the cause of the employee’s October 2008 shoulder and neck injuries. The trial court held that both injuries were compensable. The employer’s appeal was referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. After a thorough review of the evidence, we hold that the employee did not sustain a compensable work-related injury in October 2008. Accordingly, we reverse.

Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Originating Judge: Judge George R. Ellis
Crockett County Workers Compensation Panel 12/14/17
Alicia Hunt v. Dillard's Inc., ET AL.
W2016-02148-SC-WCM-WC

This appeal challenges (1) the trial court’s factual finding that the employee was pressured to resign after incurring an on-the-job injury, and declining to cap her workers’ compensation award at one and one half (1½) times the impairment rating on that basis; (2) the total amount awarded as permanent partial disability benefits; and (3) the award of temporary total disability benefits from the date of Employee’s surgery on August 14, 2014, until Appellee reached maximum medical improvement on April 27, 2015. 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: Judge Rhynette N. Hurd
Originating Judge: Judge James F. Butler
Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 12/13/17
Jeff Pevahouse v. Gerdau Ameristeel
W2016-01864-SC-WCM-WC

Jeff Pevahouse (“Employee”) worked as an industrial bricklayer at Gerdau Ameristeel (“Employer”) for thirty-two years. In the fall of 2012, he developed weakness in his arms and legs and balance problems. He sought medical care for these problems and was eventually referred to a neurosurgeon, who determined that Employee had a herniated cervical disc that required immediate surgery. Employee and his wife testified that they provided oral notice of a work injury to officials both before and after the surgery. The neurosurgeon who treated Employee could not state with medical certainty that the injury was work-related. An independent examiner testified that Employee has sustained an acute injury at work. In June 2003, Employee’s attorney sent a letter to Employer on June 6, 2013, asserting that Employee had sustained a compensable injury. Employer asserted that this was its first notice that Employee had allegedly sustained a work-related injury. The trial court held that Employee did not give timely notice of his injury and dismissed the claim. It made an alternative ruling that Employee had sustained a compensable injury and he was totally and permanently disabled. Employee has appealed, contending that the trial court’s finding regarding notice was contrary to the evidence. 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 James F. Russell
Originating Judge: Judge James F. Butler
Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 12/12/17
Melissa Duck v. Cox Oil Company, ET AL.
W2016-02261-SC-WCM-WC

The employee in this case worked as a clerk at a convenience store. While at work, the employee orally informed her supervisor that she was quitting and turned to leave the store. On her way out of the store, the employee fell. She later complained of injuries from the fall and sought workers’ compensation benefits. The employer denied the claim on the basis that the employment relationship had already ended by the time the injury occurred. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims awarded benefits. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board reversed and remanded. The employer then filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted. The employee appealed to the Supreme Court pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-239(c)(7) (2014), and the Supreme Court referred the appeal to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We hold that the appeal is not barred by the law of the case doctrine and that the employee remained employed at the time the alleged injury occurred for a reasonable length of time to effectuate the termination of her employment, so she was still employed for purposes of the workers’ compensation statutes. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Originating Judge: Judge Allen Phillips
Workers Compensation Panel 11/21/17
Douglas E. Shuler v. Eastman Chemical Company et al.
E2016-02292-SC-WCM-WC

The plaintiff, Douglas E. Shuler, filed this action seeking workers’ compensation benefits in the Circuit Court for Sullivan County against his former employer, Eastman Chemical Company (“Eastman”), and the Second Injury Fund, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“Second Injury Fund”). Mr. Shuler alleged that he had developed cancer from exposure to harmful substances in Eastman’s workplace. Eastman and the Second Injury Fund each filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Shuler’s claim, asserting that the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims had original and exclusive jurisdiction over the subject matter of the claim. The trial court granted the motions and dismissed Mr. Shuler’s claim. Mr. Shuler timely 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. Following our thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We further determine that any facial constitutional challenges to Tennessee Code Annotated §§ 50-6-217, -237, and -238 have been waived.

Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson
Originating Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck
Sullivan County Workers Compensation Panel 11/17/17
Sheila Holbert v. JBM Incoporated et al.
E2017-00324-SC-R3-WC

Sheila Holbert filed this action seeking workers’ compensation benefits for the death of her husband, Dennis Holbert (“Decedent”).  Ms. Holbert alleged Decedent died as a result of an inhalational exposure to dust in the course of his job for JBM, Incorporated (“Employer”).  After hearing the evidence, the trial court ruled Ms. Holbert had sustained her burden of proof as to causation.  It awarded death benefits and ordered Employer to pay Decedent’s medical expenses into the registry of the court.  It further ruled medical expenses were governed by the Tennessee workers’ compensation schedule.  Employer appeals, claiming the trial court erred in finding work-related causation and in ordering medical expenses to be paid into the treasury of the court.  Ms. Holbert challenges application of the Tennessee medical payment schedule.  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 in part, reverse in part, vacate in part, and remand the case to the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Chancellor Michael W. Moyers
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 11/01/17
Jonathan Engler v. Able Moving Company, ET AL.
W2016-02125-SC-R3-WC

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. See Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 51. Employee injured his back at work and subsequently developed a serious infection that required hospitalization and treatment. He filed a petition seeking to recover temporary total disability benefits and his medical expenses. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims determined Employee “failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he sustained a compensable injury primarily arising out of and in the course and scope of his employment.” After reviewing the record and applicable authority, we affirm the judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge Rhynette N. Hurd
Originating Judge: Judge Jim Umsted
Workers Compensation Panel 10/30/17
Thomas Lee v. Federal Express Corporation
W2016-02126-SC-R3-WC

Thomas Lee (“Employee”) worked for Federal Express Corporation (“Employer”). He worked in the Audio-Visual department, located in Collierville, Tennessee. He filed this claim, alleging that he sustained a compensable injury to his left shoulder on July 24, 2014. Employer denied the claim, based on conflicting descriptions of the incident to various medical personnel. A Compensation Hearing was held on August 15, 2016. The trial court found Employee had failed to sustain his burden of proof and dismissed the claim. Employee appealed to the Supreme Court pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-239(c)(7). 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 James F. Russell
Originating Judge: Judge Jim Umsted
Workers Compensation Panel 10/30/17
Troy S. Alexander v. NGMCO, LLC A/K/A General Motors, LLC
M2016-01480-SC-R3-WC

The employee worked for the predecessor to the defendant employer for many years and developed carpal tunnel syndrome. The previous employer underwent bankruptcy, and the defendant became the employee’s new employer. After the employee developed more severe symptoms, he filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The employer initially paid employee temporary total disability benefits but denied employee’s later claim for additional benefits, taking the position that the employee’s symptoms were caused by pre-existing medical conditions. At trial, both sides presented expert medical testimony. The trial court held in favor of the employee and awarded benefits. The employer now appeals, and the appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm.

Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Originating Judge: Judge Russell Parkes
Maury County Workers Compensation Panel 10/26/17
James Estel Jeffers v. Armstrong Wood Products et al.
E2017-00499-SC-R3-WC

An employee filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, alleging that he injured his back in the course and scope of his employment. His employer denied the claim. The trial court ruled the employee was permanently and totally disabled and apportioned liability fifty-two percent to the employer and forty-eight percent to the Second Injury Fund. The employer appealed, arguing the trial court erred in finding the employee established a work-related injury and in apportioning the liability for the award. After careful review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Originating Judge: Judge John D. McAfee
Scott County Workers Compensation Panel 10/24/17
United Parcel Service, Inc. et al. v. Robert Charles Millican, Jr.
E2016-02424-SC-R3-WC

An employer filed a complaint to resolve a dispute with an employee regarding workers’ compensation benefits. The employee alleged he suffered gradual hearing loss arising out of and in the course of his employment. The trial court held that the employee’s claim, filed three years after his doctor advised him that his hearing loss was work related, was barred by the statute of limitations. Further, the trial court found the statute of limitations was not tolled because the employee failed to prove that any work-related noise caused a progression of the employee’s hearing loss. The employee appealed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Originating Judge: Judge L. Marie Williams
Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 10/24/17
Angela Evans v. Alliance Healthcare Services
W2016-00653-SC-WCM-WC

Angela Evans (“Employee”) was employed by Alliance Healthcare Services (“Employer”) as a bus driver. On December 16, 2009, she witnessed the shooting of a coworker by a patient. She received mental health care through workers’ compensation. She did not return to work for Employer or any other entity. After exhausting the Benefit Review process, she filed this action in the Chancery Court for Shelby County, alleging that she was permanently and totally disabled by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) caused by witnessing the shooting. Employer acknowledged the incident but asserted that Employee’s continuing mental health problems were caused by other events and stressors. Employer further asserted that Employee was not permanently and totally disabled. The trial court held that Employee was permanently and totally disabled and that the December 16, 2009 incident was the cause of her disability. Benefits were awarded accordingly. Employer has timely appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel (“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: Justice Roger Page
Originating Judge: Judge James R. Newsom
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 09/26/17
James Tucker v. Tree & Shrub Trucking, Inc., et al.
M2016-01898-SC-R3-WC

James Tucker was employed as a truck driver by Tree & Shrub Trucking, Inc. (“Employer”) from 2006 until 2014. In 2012, Mr. Tucker sustained a compensable lower back injury. After having surgery, he was able to return to work for Employer. His claim for permanent partial disability benefits was settled, based on one and one-half times the anatomical impairment. Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-241(d)(1)(A) (applicable to injuries occurring prior to July 1, 2014). In January 2014, Mr. Tucker had a dramatic increase in his symptoms while bending over to fuel his truck. A claim for a new injury was filed after he was examined by his treating physician. Employer’s workers’ compensation insurer had changed between the two incidents. Each insurer contended that the other was liable for Mr. Tucker’s claim. Mr. Tucker was not able to return to work for Employer. Ultimately, Mr. Tucker settled his claim with the second insurer (“Praetorian”). He pursued a claim for reconsideration of the previous settlement against Employer and the first insurer (“Berkley Risk”). The trial court found that Mr. Tucker was entitled to reconsideration and awarded additional benefits of four times the anatomical impairment. 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 trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson
Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 08/29/17