Workers' Compensation Opinions

Format: 11/22/2017
Format: 11/22/2017
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
James Ellis Phillips v. The Pictsweet Company
W2016-01704-SC-R3-WC

James Phillips (“Employee”) worked for The Pictsweet Company (Employer”) as a truck driver and mechanic. He alleged that he sustained a compensable back injury on December 2, 2013. Employer eventually denied the claim primarily because the treating physician’s opinion was that Employee’s symptoms were caused by preexisting degenerative changes and were not related to his work. Although Employee received additional medical treatment through Tenncare, his condition did not improve. An IME physician opined that Employee’s condition was work-related and that he retained permanent impairment. The trial court found that Employee had sustained a compensable injury and awarded permanent partial disability benefits of 72% to the body as a whole. Employer 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 affirm in part, modify in part, and reverse in part.

Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree, Jr.
Originating Judge: Judge George R. Ellis
Crockett County Workers Compensation Panel 08/28/17
Raymond Gibson v. Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation et al.
W2016-01403-SC-R3-WC

After Employee suffered a lower back injury in the course and scope of his employment, the parties reached a settlement as to his permanent partial disability benefits. Employee later filed a petition for modification of the award, and the trial court found that Employee is permanently and totally disabled. Employer appeals, contending the trial court erred in finding Employee permanently and totally disabled and in finding Employer liable for ninety percent of the award. 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. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree, Jr.
Originating Judge: Judge George R. Ellis
Crockett County Workers Compensation Panel 08/28/17
William H. Lewis v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00738-SC-R3-WC

William Lewis (“Employee”) worked for the Tennessee Department of Transportation (“TDOT”) as a Highway Maintenance Worker I from 2002 until June 2010. During the course of his employment, he sustained compensable injuries to his right shoulder, left shoulder, and right eye. The claims arising from these injuries resulted in settlements or awards, all of which provided that Employee retained a right to reconsideration pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d). On May 24, 2010, Employee collapsed while flagging traffic. He stated that his knees gave out at that time. Employee subsequently filed a claim for bilateral knee injuries, and petitions for reconsideration of the three previous settlements. After hearings on June 14, 2014, and December 7, 2015, the Commission issued a written decision. The Commission awarded ninety percent (90%) permanent partial disability to both legs for the May 24, 2010 injury, but declined to award additional benefits for the reconsideration claims. TDOT has appealed from the Commission’s decision pertaining to Employee’s knee injuries, and Employee has appealed from the decision to deny additional benefits on the reconsideration claims. 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 on the award of disability to the legs, but reverse on the reconsideration claims and remand to the Commission to recalculate Employee’s disability regarding his shoulders.

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Commissioner William O. Shults
Workers Compensation Panel 08/08/17
Steven Bell v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
W2015-01675-SC-R3-WC

Steven Bell (“Employee”) worked for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (“Employer”) for thirty-seven years. He retired when Employer’s plant closed in 2011. Shortly thereafter, he filed a request for benefit review conference, contending that he had sustained hearing loss as a result of noise exposure in the course of his work for Employer. He filed this civil action on May 4, 2012. Hearing screens taken by Employer from 1974 through 2010 showed that Employee had moderate to severe hearing loss when he was hired. Employer, therefore, denied the claim. The trial court awarded permanent partial disability benefits of 40% to the hearing of both ears. 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: Judge Paul G. Summers
Originating Judge: Judge W. Michael Maloan
Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 08/07/17
Jason Baker v. Total Air Group LLC f/k/a Tunica Group LLC, ET AL.
W2016-00965-SC-R3-WC

Jason Baker (“Employee”) was first employed by Total Air Group, LLC (“Employer”) on June 17, 2010. On February 11, 2011, Employee sustained an injury to his back while working for Employer in Memphis, Tennessee. Employee’s treating physician determined that Employee had achieved maximum medical improvement on June 13, 2011. Employer’s workers’ compensation insurer made its final voluntary payment of Employee’s medical expenses on December 31, 2012. Employee returned to work but was terminated by Employer on July 29, 2014. Employee alleged that he requested and received from Employer’s workers’ compensation insurer authorization for additional medical treatment in February 2015. Employee requested a benefit review conference, which was held on April 30, 2015. Employee filed this workers’ compensation case on May 1, 2015. Employer answered, asserting as an affirmative defense that Employee’s claim was barred by the one-year statute of limitations. Tenn. Code Ann.
§ 50-6-203(b)(2). The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. Following a trial, the trial court held that Employee’s claim was not barred by the statute of limitations. Based upon the agreement of the parties, the trial court thereafter entered a final judgment awarding Employee benefits. Employer has appealed the trial court’s determination with respect to the statute of limitations. 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, albeit on different grounds.

Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Originating Judge: Judge Jim Kyle
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/07/17
Jenny Craig Operations, Inc. v. Lori Reel
M2016-01775-SC-R3-WC

Lori Reel (“Employee”) was employed by Jenny Craig Operations, Inc. (“Employer”) as a Jenny Craig consultant. On January 8, 2010, Employee fell while at work and struck her right knee on the floor. Suit was filed. Employee alleged that she sustained a work-related injury to her right knee that aggravated pre-existing arthritis in that knee and ultimately necessitated a total knee replacement. While conceding that Employee sustained a temporary injury to her knee from the fall, Employer denied liability for the total knee replacement and for any permanent impairment. The trial court found that Employee’s work-related fall caused an acceleration, advancement, or progression of her osteoarthritis, such that she required a total knee replacement, that Employee’s January 8, 2010 injury was compensable, and that Employee retained a permanent partial disability of 46.5% to her right lower extremity. 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: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 08/04/17
Joseph Kolby Willis v. All Staff, et al
M2016-01143-SC-R3-WC

Joseph Kolby Willis (“Employee”) alleges that he sustained a compensable injury to his left knee while working for All Staff (“Employer”). After his petition for interlocutory relief was denied, discovery was taken, and a compensation hearing was held. The court of workers’ compensation claims (“trial court”) bifurcated the issues of compensability and relief. After the hearing, the trial court issued a compensation order finding the injury was compensable. Employer appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (“Board”) pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-217 (2014). The Board reversed the trial court’s order, finding that Employee had failed to establish causation, and remanded the case to the trial court for entry of an order dismissing the claim. After the order was entered, Employee appealed to the Supreme Court. Employee’s appeal has been referred to this 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 dismissal.

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Paul G. Summers
Originating Judge: Judge Joshua Baker
Workers Compensation Panel 08/03/17
Clifford Barker v. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
W2015-01893-SC-R3-WC

Clifford Barker (“Employee”) worked for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (“Employer”) from 1969 until 1999, when he retired. He filed this action seeking benefits for alleged work-related hearing loss on March 18, 2014. Employer disputed that Employee’s hearing loss was work-related. The trial court awarded benefits for 30% permanent partial disability to both ears. Employer has appealed from that award, contending the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding of causation. In the alternative, Employer argues that Employee sustained no vocational disability as a result of his hearing loss. The appeal has been referred to a 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, modify in part, and remand to the trial court for entry of a judgment consistent with this opinion.

Authoring Judge: Judge Paul G. Summers
Originating Judge: Judge W. Michael Maloan
Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 08/02/17
Barbara Joan Rains v. Wal-Mart Associates Inc.
W2016-00636-SC-R3-WC

Barbara Rains (“Employee”) filed this action in the Circuit Court for Hardin County, alleging that she sustained a back injury in the course of her work as a cashier for Wal-Mart (“Employer”). The issues were bifurcated, with compensability to be tried first and any remaining issues to be heard later. After the hearing about compensability, the trial court found that Employee had failed to sustain her burden of proof and dismissed the complaint. Employee has appealed, alleging various errors by the trial court. 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. Because Employee failed to present any expert medical evidence to support her claim, we conclude that the trial court’s finding regarding compensability was correct. All other issues raised by Employee are pretermitted. Therefore, we affirm the judgment.

Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Originating Judge: Judge Charles C. McGinley
Hardin County Workers Compensation Panel 07/18/17
Jeffrey Scott Beck v. City of Brownsville, et al.
W2016-01402-SC-R3-WC

Jeffrey Scott Beck (“Employee”) filed a workers’ compensation complaint claiming he suffered a back injury six months earlier during the course and scope of his employment with the City of Brownsville (“Employer”). Employer denied that the alleged injury arose out of his employment and maintained that Employee failed to give timely notice of the alleged injury. The trial court determined that Employee’s notice was untimely and that Employee’s excuse for not providing timely notice was unreasonable. The trial court also concluded that Employee failed to establish causation. Employee 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 review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree, Jr.
Originating Judge: Judge George R. Ellis
Haywood County Workers Compensation Panel 07/18/17
James Russell, et al. v. Transco Lines, Inc., et al.
E2015-02509-SC-R3-WC

The issue in this workers’ compensation appeal is whether a Tennessee trial court had subject matter jurisdiction over a workers’ compensation claim.  James and Elizabeth Russell, residents of Johnson City, Tennessee, were employed by Transco Lines, Inc. (“Employer”), an Arkansas company headquartered in Russellville, Arkansas.  The Russells, who were team truck drivers, were injured on July 5, 2013, in a motor vehicle accident near Shreveport, Louisiana.  Employer and its insurer, Triangle Insurance Company (“Insurer”), accepted the Russells’ workers’ compensation claims as compensable and paid benefits under Arkansas law.  In October 2013, the Russells, through their counsel, filed a Request for Benefit Review Conference with the Tennessee Department of Labor.  No additional action occurred in Tennessee, and benefits continued to be paid according to Arkansas law.  After the administrative process was exhausted, the Russells filed this action in the Circuit Court for Washington County against Employer and Insurer, requesting compensation benefits under the workers’ compensation laws of Tennessee.  Employer argued that the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the claim and that even if it had jurisdiction, the Russells had made an election of remedies and were precluded from pursuing benefits in Tennessee.  The trial court ruled for the Russells, holding that it had subject matter jurisdiction and that the Russells had not made an election of remedies.  The trial court awarded Mr. Russell 65% permanent partial disability and Ms. Russell 85% permanent partial disability.  Employer and Insurer 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: Judge John W. McClarty
Originating Judge: Judge James E. Lauderback
Washington County Workers Compensation Panel 06/20/17
Charles Steven Blocker v. Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, et al.
E2016-01053-SC-WCM-WC

Charles Steven Blocker (“Employee”) sustained a compensable injury to his cervical spine in November 2010.  Surgery was required to treat the injury.  He was able to return to work for Powell Valley Electric Cooperative (“Employer”) after that injury.  His claim for workers’ compensation benefits was settled.  Employee suffered a second, gradual injury to his cervical spine in January 2013.  He was unable to return to work after that injury.  He brought suit in the Chancery Court for Claiborne County against Employer and the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Second Injury Fund (“the Fund”).  The parties stipulated that Employee was permanently and totally disabled.  The only issue presented to the court was apportionment of the permanent total disability benefits between Employer and the Fund.  The trial court found that the second injury had caused a 9% permanent partial disability without reference to the prior injury.  Benefits were apportioned 9% to Employer and 91% to the Fund.  The Fund has appealed, contending that 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 reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Originating Judge: Chancellor Elizabeth C. Asbury
Claiborne County Workers Compensation Panel 05/18/17
Victor Dunn v. Tradesmen International, Inc.
E2015-01930-SC-R3-WC

Victor Dunn (“Employee”), a Tennessee resident, was injured in Iowa while working for Tradesmen International, Inc. (“Employer”).  Employer accepted the injury as compensable but disputed Tennessee’s jurisdiction over the claim, contended that any award of permanent disability benefits should be limited to one and one-half times the impairment rating, and disagreed with Employee’s calculation of his average weekly wage.  The trial court held that it had jurisdiction, that the claim was not “capped,” and that Employee’s proposed average weekly wage was correct. It awarded permanent partial disability benefits of 25% to the body as a whole.  Employer has appealed, arguing that the trial court’s ruling on the average weekly wage issue was incorrect. 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, Sr.
Originating Judge: Judge James E. Lauderback
Johnson County Workers Compensation Panel 05/10/17
Donald Ray Brown v. Zurich American Insurance Company
E2016-00237-SC-R3-WC

Donald Brown (“Employee”) filed this action, alleging that he sustained a compensable heart attack while working for Grand Eagle Company (“Employer”).  After a hearing on the merits, the trial court found that Employee had failed to satisfy his burden of proof that the heart attack was caused by an acute, immediate, stressful event.  Judgment was entered for Employer.  Employee timely filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court, and 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, Sr.
Originating Judge: Chancellor Telford E. Forgety
Sevier County Workers Compensation Panel 04/21/17
Tracy Payne v. D & D Electric, et al.
E2016-01177-SC-R3-WC

The issue in this workers’ compensation appeal is whether the employer is entitled to summary judgment. The employee filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, alleging he injured his foot in the course and scope of his employment. His employer denied the claim, citing a lack of medical proof that the injury was job-related. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims denied a motion for summary judgment filed by the employer, finding there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the work injury contributed more than fifty percent in causing the injury. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board reversed and dismissed the case, holding that the employee failed to produce sufficient evidence that his foot condition arose primarily out of and in the course and scope of his employment. After careful review, we affirm the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. 

Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Originating Judge: Judge Thomas L. Wyatt
Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 04/18/17
Paula Dugger v. Home Health Care Of Middle Tennessee, et al
M2016-01284-SC-WCM-WC

Paula Dugger (“Employee”), a home health nurse, was injured in a motor vehicle accident while returning to her home from an attempt to travel to a patient’s residence. Home Health Care of Middle Tennessee (“Employer”) denied her claim, contending that the injury did not occur in the course of her employment. Employee sought temporary benefits from the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims (“trial court”). The trial court denied her petition, and that denial was affirmed by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Upon remand to the trial court, Employer filed a motion for summary judgment on the issue of compensability. The motion was supported by a set of agreed facts submitted by the parties. The trial court granted Employer’s motion and entered an order dismissing Employee’s claim. Employee appealed directly to the Supreme Court, as permitted by Tennessee Code Annotated sections 50-6-225(a)(1) (2014) and 50-6-239(c)(7) (2014). 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 and remand.

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Judge Dale Tipps
Workers Compensation Panel 04/13/17