Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Workers' Compensation Opinions

Format: 07/06/2020
Format: 07/06/2020
Robert Lively v. Textron, Inc.
01S01-9604-CH-00070
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The plaintiff appeals from the trial court's finding that the permanent impairment did not result from 1992 injuries at Textron Aerostructures. Finding no error in the trial court's decision, we affirm. Dr. Wesley Coker started treating the plaintiff in March 1994 for herniated discs that were causing nerve root pressure. The plaintiff was in bad shape when he first saw him, according to Coker, as he had to be helped into the doctor's office and told the doctor about two months of excruciating pain. After switching to the care of a chiropractor, the plaintiff returned to Coker who performed surgery in June 1994. Dr. Coker testified that the plaintiff suffers a 13% whole body impairment. But Dr. Coker did not offer any testimony about what caused the plaintiff's back trouble. The issue in this case is whether the plaintiff established by a preponderance of the evidence that his impairment resulted from two injuries at Textron, one on March 5, 1992 and another on October 3, 1992. The trial court decided that the plaintiff did not prove his case, and there is ample evidence to support the decision. The plaintiff and his wife were injured in a car wreck on the way to work on the morning of February 1, 1994. The plaintiff had worked regularly before the accident, but did not work any after it. This tends to suggest that the car wreck, not the injuries years earlier, caused the back trouble Dr. Coker treated. The plaintiff called Textron following the wreck to report that he was not coming to work. The reason, he said, was that he slipped a disc in his back while -2-
Authoring Judge: Robert S. Brandt, Senior Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Robert E. Corlew, III,
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/96
Stephen Baxendale v. Universal Underwriters Insurance
01S01-9605-CH-00097
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employee or claimant, Baxendale, contends (1) the award of permanent partial disability benefits is inadequate and (2) the trial court erred in computing his compensation rate. The employer and its insurer contend the trial court erred in finding the employee suffered a compensable injury by accident on June 6, 1994. As discussed below, the panel has concluded the award of permanent partial disability benefits should be modified and the judgment otherwise affirmed. The claimant is a thirty-five year old laborer with a ninth grade education. He failed a test for a GED. At the time of the claimed injury, he was earning $6.39 per hour. Beginning in October of 1992, he suffered back pain at work, but continued working while being conservatively treated for pain. At one time the treating physician assigned to him a four percent permanent whole person impairment rating. He was awarded permanent partial disability benefits based on ten percent to the body as a whole and returned to work as a laborer at the same wage rate he was earning before the injury. On June 6, 1994, he became disabled to work because of severe back pain and was diagnosed as having suffereda gradually developing ruptured disc. The doctor surgically removed the ruptured disc and estimated his permanent whole person impairment at nine percent, from appropriate guidelines. After recovering from the surgery, the claimant again returned to work at the same wage as before the disabling injury, but with significant lifting, bending, stooping and twisting restrictions. Another orthopedic surgeon evaluated the claimant and assigned a whole person impairment rating of ten percent, using different but equally appropriate guidelines. The claimant continued to suffer back pain while working as a warehouseman. Upon consideration of the above facts, the chancellor awarded permanent partial disability benefits on the basis of ten percent to the body as a whole for the June 6, 1994 injury, and fixed the claimant's compensation rate at $159.47 per week. Appellate review is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness of the findings of fact, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(2). This tribunal is required to conduct an independent examination of the record to determine where the preponderance of the evidence lies.
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Irvin H. Kilcrease,
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/96
Anthony Neal Bates v. Cooper Industries, et al.
01S01-9604-CV-00065
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer and its insurer contend the evidence preponderates against the award of permanent partial disability benefits. As discussed below, the panel has concluded the judgment should be affirmed. The employee or claimant, Bates, is thirty-six years old and a high school graduate. He has done nursery, construction, farming, factory and supervisory work. On September, 4, 1992, while lifting a thirty to forty pound box of coil springs to fill a customer's order, he strained his upper back. After a brief period of recuperation, during which he was treated conservatively by a neurological surgeon, he returned to work with weight lifting restrictions. On May 26, 1994, he strained his lower back in another lifting accident at work and was treated by the same doctor. The doctor again treated the claimant conservatively and returned him to work. The treating doctor and two others to whom he was referred, one an orthopedist and one a pain management specialist, assigned zero percent permanent impairment, using appropriate guidelines. The claimant was referred by his attorney or his family physician to another orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed cervical and lumbar sprain and assigned a five to ten percent permanent whole person impairment. The disagreement is over whether the injury is in "category one" or "category two," as defined by the guidelines, which involves "a judgment call." The claimant has been terminated because the employer was unwilling to offer him a job within his lifting restrictions. A vocational expert has estimated the claimant's industrial disability at fifty-five to sixty percent. The claimant's own testimony is that he is able to work at a job not requiring repetitive or heavy lifting. The trial court awarded permanent partial disability benefits based on forty-five percent to the body as a whole. Appellate review is de novo upon the record of the trial court, accompanied by a presumption of correctness of the findings of fact, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(2). This tribunal is required to conduct an independent examination of the evidence to determine where the preponderance of the evidence lies.
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Originating Judge: Anthony Bates,
DeKalb County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/96
Rita Baker v. Ckr Industries, Inc.
01S01-9604-CV-00074
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The plaintiff is employed by CKR Industries, a Winchester company that makes rubber windshield and door sealers for Nissan. A piece of plywood fell on her on January 4, 1993, and she filed suit alleging that as a result, she is totally, permanently disabled. The trial court found otherwise and ruled that she has no permanent disability. Because the trial court's finding is fully supported by the evidence, we affirm the decision. The minor nature of the accident is one factor supporting the trial court's decision. The four foot-by-eight foot single sheet of plywood surrounded by a metal frame was being used as a bulletin board and was standing next to where the plaintiff worked. It only fell one or two feet onto her shoulder. The plaintiff did not seek any medical treatment for several days. She never missed any work on account of the accident that she alleges left her totally and permanently disabled. She now works ten-to-twelve hours a day, five days a week. The most reliable medical evidence does not support her claim of permanent disability. He primary treating physician was Dr. Ray Fambrough, an orthopedic surgeon in Huntsville, Alabama. He diagnosed the plaintiff as having "subacromial impingement" which is nothing more than bursitis of the shoulder. Dr. Fambrough concluded that the blow to the plaintiff's shoulder did not in itself cause the bursitis, but that it exacerbated it. He testified that any impairment from the blow to the shoulder would be negligible. -2-
Authoring Judge: Robert S. Brandt, Senior Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Thomas W. Graham,
Franklin County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/96
Pamela D. Millsap-Fann v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Company
03S01-9605-CH-00052
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The job-related accident from which the injury and disability arose occurred April 11, 1992. The case was heard January 12, 1996 resulting in a judgment that the plaintiff had sustained a 6 percent disability to her whole body. The employer appeals and presents for review the issue of whether the award is excessive. Our standard of review is de novo on the record accompanied with a presumption of the correctness of the judgment unless the evidence otherwise preponderates. TENN. R. APP. P. 13(d); T.C.A. _ 5-6-225. The application of this standard requires this Court to weigh in more depth the findings and conclusions of the trial courts in workers' compensation cases. Corcoran v. Foster Auto GMC, 746 S.W.2d 452, 456 (Tenn. 1988). The plaintiff was involved in a traffic accident during the course of her employment as a family counselor. Her most serious injury was a broken hip which required a prosthetic replacement by Dr. Thomas L. Huddleston, an orthopedic surgeon, who testified by deposition that the plaintiff had a 37_ percent permanent partial impairment to her left leg, extrapolated to 15 percent for the whole body. The plaintiff was 42 years old at the time of trial. She has a Master's Degree in her area of discipline. She was employed by the First Tennessee Human Resources Agency in November 199 as a HomeTies specialist and, following her surgery, she returned to work with no prescribed limitations or restrictions. The proof shows a litany of physical activities in which she may engage by way of demonstrating the extent and range of her recovery and present condition, which include but are not limited to driving a car, hiking, backpacking, playing tennis and performing all normal household functions. Her discharge summary was, "Her hip was free of pain . . . . the range of motion of her hip was excellent . . . ." Her immediate supervisor testified that she was able to perform all of her duties, and the
Authoring Judge: William H. Inman, Senior Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. G. Richard Johnson
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 10/22/96
Ralph D. West v. Sonic Drive-In and Anco Interstate Insurance Company
01S01-9603-CH-00054
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The plaintiff alleged that he injured his back on November 27, 1991 while employed as a cook. He sought medical treatment about one month later and in course was referred to Dr. Fonda Bondurant, an orthopedic surgeon in Lebanon, Tennessee, who performed a hemilaminectomy and discectomy on January 27, 1992. The surgery was successful, and the plaintiff was released to return to work on March 31, 1992. Utilizing the AMA Guidelines, Dr. Bondurant gave the plaintiff an impairment rating of eight percent "strictly because he had surgical intervention performed." This case has been twice tried. The first trial was held on April 19, 1993 and ended with a non-suit after the plaintiff and his wife testified. The second trial was held on October 4, 1994 resulting in a finding that the plaintiff had a 32 percent vocational impairment. The defendant appeals and presents for review the issues of notice, occurrence, injury and disability. An issue involving the admission of certain Social Security records is also presented. Our review is de novo on the record, accompanied with the presumption that the findings of fact of the trial court are correct unless the evidence otherwise preponderates. T.C.A. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). At the outset, we are constrained to observe that this 38-year-old man has testified three times; once upon discovery and twice in open court. His testimony is inconsistent and obviously underwent considerable fine-tuning during the interim between trials. The Chancellor expressed his dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the case, but in the end resolved the issues of notice and injury favorably to the plaintiff, chiefly because a reputable orthopedic surgeon took a history from the plaintiff two months after the injury and performed major corrective surgery on him. In any event the Chancellor is the best judge of the credibility of the plaintiff and we 2
Authoring Judge: William H. Inman, Senior Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. C.K. Smith,
Smith County Workers Compensation Panel 10/17/96
Shirley Diane Trail v. Royal Insurance Company and Ckr Industries, Inc.,
01SO1-9505-CH-00071
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Our review is de novo on the record accompanied by the presumption that the findings of fact of the trial court are correct unless the evidence preponderates otherwise. TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). The trial court awarded Ms. Trail $19,421. permanent partial disability benefits, representing one-hundreed (1) weeks at the benefit rate of $194.21 per week, or twenty-five percent (25%) to the body as a whole; and future medical benefits pursuant to the Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act. The trial court also allowed attorneys fees of twenty percent (2%) of the award, in the amount of $3,884.2, to be paid in a lump sum. The Appellant contends that the trial court erred in: 1. Finding that a vocational disability based upon a permanent medical restriction, with medical testimony of no medical impairment rating in accordance with the A.M.A. Guidelines for Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, constitutes a compensable permanent partial disability under the Workers' Compensation Act. 2. Awarding permanent partial disability benefits to the Plaintiff that were excessive and against the weight of the evidence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Ms. Trail filed her complaint in the Chancery Court for Franklin County, Tennessee, against her employer, Defendant CKR Industries, seeking to recover unpaid benefits under the Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act for work-related injuries. Ms. Trail alleged that she suffered injuries as a result of exposure to chemicals in use at the CKR Plant. The case was consolidated with three (3) other cases for trial due to significant similarities in the cases. The opinion of the Court on the first issue is contained in the case of Angela K. Hill v. Royal Insurance Company and CKR Industries, Inc., No. 1S1-955-CH-71, filed simultaneously with this opinion. The Court held that the trial court did not err in finding that a vocational disability existed based upon the testimony of the medical experts that a permanent medical restriction existed which constitutes a permanent partial disability under the Worker's Compensation Act, even though no medical impairment rating was given by any of the
Authoring Judge: Robert L. Childers, Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Jeffrey F. Stewart
Franklin County Workers Compensation Panel 10/17/96
Kerry Alan Napier v. Cincinnati Casualty Insurance Company and North Central Telephone Cooperative
01S01-9604-CH-00063
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The issue in this case is whether the award of 75 percent disability to the plaintiff's right hand is in accord with the preponderance of proof. Appellate review is confined to a review de novo on the record, accompanied by a presumption that the trial judge's findings of fact are correct unless the evidence otherwise preponderates. T.C.A. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). A concomitant rule is that we are as enabled as the trial judge to judge the probative worth of depositional testimony. Landers v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Co., 775 S.W.2d 355, 356 (Tenn. 1989). The plaintiff's job with the telephone company was that of a cable splicer and repairman. During the course of his employment, he sustained a laceration to the extensor tendon of his right hand, on October 25, 1994, involving the index, middle and ring fingers, which was repaired by Dr. Keith Morrison, an orthopedic surgeon in Bowling Green, Kentucky, under whose care he remained until February 22, 1995. On that date, Dr. Morrison noted: Mr. Napier is now 4 months status post extensor tendon repair on his right hand. Four tendons repaired to the index finger, slips to the middle and ring finger on the right hand. His EXAM today shows some improvement. He still lacks full extension on the index finger by about 2dg when his wrist is brought into extension. With the wrist in the flexed position, he has full extension of the hand. He has full flexion of all the digits with his only limitation being the lack of full extension on the index finger with his wrist in the above mentioned extension position. They would like to get a second opinion for insurance reasons so we are going to see him back in 1 month. At that time he will be 5 months out. I recommend tenolysis exploration. If he is still dissatisfied with the result. Overall, he has made a big improvement, having had no active extension of the fingers on repair. He remains neurovascularly intact. Otherwise, no loss of sensation. The plaintiff was later seen, on March 15, 1995 by Dr. Stephen Pratt, a specialist in reconstructive hand surgery, because of a 3 degree lag in the index finger. Further tendon repairs were undertaken to correct the lag. Dr. Pratt testified 2
Authoring Judge: William H. Inman, Senior Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. C.K. Smith,
Macon County Workers Compensation Panel 10/17/96
Johnny Jobe v. M. K. Ferguson and Second Injury Fund
03S01-9512-CV-00131
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The issue in this appeal is whether the award of permanent disability benefits is excessive. As discussed below, we have concluded the judgment should be modified. The employee or claimant, Jobe, was 59 years old at the time of the trial. He has a ninth grade education and is a skilled carpenter, capable of reading plans and performing supervisory duties. On May 5, 1993, he fell at work and was slightly injured, but continued to work. On August 24, of the same year, he injured his lower back while lifting a cabinet at work. He was treated by Dr. David Hauge for a herniated lumbar disc from the second injury and a herniated cervical disc, possibly from the earlier injury. Dr. Hauge assigned a permanent impairment rating of seven percent to the whole body. Dr. Berta Bergia, whom the claimant saw for an examination and evaluation, assigned permanent impairment ratings of five percent for the cervical disc and ten percent for the lumbar disc. Dr. Bergia said the claimant should not do more than sedentary work. The claimant has not returned to work. The trial judge awarded permanent partial disability benefits based on thirty percent to the body as a whole for the May 5th injury and one hundred percent for the August 24th injury. Because the combined award totaled one hundred thirty percent, the employer was ordered to pay on the basis of one hundred percent and the remaining thirty percent was assessed against the 2
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. James B. Scott, Jr.,
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 10/17/96
Barbara Ann Holt v. Royal Insurance Company and Ckr Industries, Inc.
01SO1-9505-CH-00071
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special W orkers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Our review is de novo on the record accompanied by a presumption that the findings of fact of the trial court are correct unless the evidence preponderates otherwise. TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). The trial court awarded Ms. Holt $13,196.8 permanent partial disability benefits, representing eighty (8) weeks at the benefit rate of $164.96 per week, or twenty percent (2%) to the body as a whole; and future medical benefits pursuant to the Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act. The trial court also allowed attorneys fees of twenty percent (2%) of the award, in the amount of $2,639.36, to be paid in lump sum. The appellant contends that the trial court erred in: 1. Finding that a vocational disability based upon a permanent medical restriction, with medical testimony of no medical impairment rating in accordance with A.M.A. Guidelines for Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, constitutes a compensable permanent partial disability under the Workers' Compensation Act. 2. Awarding permanent partial disability benefits to the Plaintiff that were excessive and against the weight of the evidence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Ms. Holt filed her complaint in the Chancery Court for Franklin County, Tennessee, against her employer, Defendant CKR Industries, seeking to recover unpaid benefits under the Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act for work-related injuries. Ms. Holt alleged that she suffered injuries as a result of exposure to chemicals in use at the CKR Plant. The case was consolidated with three (3) other cases for trial due to significant similarities in the cases. The opinion of the Court on the first issue is contained in the case of Angela K. Hill v. Royal Insurance Company and CKR Industries, Inc., No. 1S1-955-CH-71, filed simultaneously with this opinion. The Court held that the trial court did not err in finding that a vocational disability existed based upon the testimony of the medical experts that a permanent medical restriction existed which constitutes a permanent partial disability under the Worker's Compensation Act, even though no medical impairment rating was given by any of the medical experts.
Authoring Judge: Robert L. Childers, Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Jeffrey F. Stewart
Franklin County Workers Compensation Panel 10/17/96
Angela K. Hill v. Royal Insurance Company and Ckr Industries, Inc.
01SO1-9505-CH-00071
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special W orkers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Our review is de novo on the record accompanied by a presumption that the findings of fact of the trial court are correct unless the evidence preponderates otherwise. TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). The trial court awarded Plaintiff Hill $16,212. permanent partial disability benefits, representing eighty (8) weeks at the benefit rate of $22.65 per week, or twenty percent (2%) permanent partial disability to the body as a whole; and future medical expenses pursuant to the Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act. The trial court also allowed an attorneys fee of twenty percent (2%) of the award, in the amount $3,242.4, to be paid in lump sum. The appellant contends that the trial court erred in: 1. Finding that a vocational disability based upon a permanent medical restriction, with medical testimony of no medical impairment rating in accordance with A.M.A. Guidelines for Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, constitutes a compensable permanent partial disability under the Workers' Compensation Act. 2. Awarding permanent partial disability benefits to the Plaintiff that were excessive and against the weight of the evidence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Ms. Hill filed the complaint in the Chancery Court for Franklin County, Tennessee, against her employer, Defendant CKR Industries, seeking to recover unpaid benefits under the Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act for work-related injuries. Ms. Hill alleged that she suffered injuries as a result of exposure to chemicals in use at the CKR Plant. This case was consolidated with three (3) additional cases for trial due to significant similarities in the cases. At CKR, Ms. Hill worked as a Mucote sprayer. Mucote is a sealant, used to prevent rubber weather stripping from dryingout, and contains two solvents, toluene and methyl ethyl ketone. Ms. Hill began suffering from nose bleeds, difficulty in breathing, upset stomachs, and dizzy spells while at work. She complained to the human resources supervisor and safety and environmental coordinator about her symptoms and was moved to another position. When she was later returned to the spraying job,
Authoring Judge: Robert L. Childers, Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Jeffrey F. Stewart
Franklin County Workers Compensation Panel 10/17/96
Billy Gibson v. Aetna Casualty and Surety Co. and Wolf Tree Experts, Inc.,
03S01-9602-CV-00012
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Plaintiff, Billy Gibson, was awarded 1 percent permanent disability benefits by the Circuit Court of Sevier County as a result of an accident on June 24, 1991, when he fell backward from a truck to the ground injuring his back. Defendants, Wolf Tree Experts, Inc. and The Aetna Casualty and Surety Company, have appealed insisting the evidence preponderates against the finding of total disability. Plaintiff is 4 years of age with a third grade education; he cannot read or write and was employed as a tree trimmer by defendant employer for almost twenty years; he had back surgery (ruptured disc) in 1978 but recovered sufficiently to work full time without any real problems; his injury as a result of the June 1991 accident resulted in another ruptured disc and this surgery did not appear to be successful; another surgical procedure was performed to remove bone fragments; he told the trial court he was not able to return to work as a tree trimmer or do any other type work on a regular basis; he admitted he had worked at what he called "piddling jobs" and said he was usually on the heating pad for several days after activity of this nature; his complaints of pain continued up to the date of the trial. Plaintiff's treating physician and surgeon was Dr. Archer W. Bishop, Jr., who testified by deposition. Dr. Bishop testified plaintiff continued to complain of pain during his entire treatment period, including the numerous visits after the last surgical procedure. He said at one point another surgery was contemplated but was not performed because he felt the chance of improvement was small. He gave plaintiff a 12 percent medical impairment and said he should avoid repetitive bending, stooping and heavy lifting of more than forty pounds. Craig R. Colvin, a disability management consultant, testified by 2
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Ben W. Hooper, Ii,
Sevier County Workers Compensation Panel 10/17/96
Donna Forrester v. Oshkosh B'Gosh and Travelers Insurance Company
01S01-9511-JP-00206
This worker's compensation appeal has been referred to the special worker's compensation appeals panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _50-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Authoring Judge: Cornelia A. Clark, Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Anthony L. Sanders
Humphreys County Workers Compensation Panel 10/17/96
Helen Carroll v. Moore and Associates and Travelers Insurance Company
01S01-9512-CV-00221
Authoring Judge: William S. Russell, Special Judge
Originating Judge: HON. JOHN W. ROLLINS, JUDGE
Carroll County Workers Compensation Panel 10/17/96
Juanita D. Bean v. Royal Insurance Company and Ckr Industries, Inc.
01SO1-9505-CH-00071
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special W orkers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Our review is de novo on the record accompanied by a presumption that the findings of fact of the trial court are correct unless the evidence preponderates otherwise. TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). The trial court awarded Ms. Bean $8,831.4 permanent partial disability benefits, representing forty-eight (48) weeks at the benefit rate of $183.98 per week, or twelve percent (12%) to the body as a whole; future medical expenses pursuant to the Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act; and reasonable costs of Dr. Rodriguez services. The trial court also allowed attorneys fees of twenty percent (2%) of the award, in the amount of $1,766.21, to be paid in lump sum. The appellant contends that the trial court erred in: 1. Finding that a vocational disability based upon a permanent medical restriction, with medical testimony of no medical impairment rating in accordance with the A.M.A. Guidelines for Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, constitutes a compensable permanent partial disability under the Workers' Compensation Act. 2. Awarding permanent partial disability benefits to the Plaintiff that were excessive and against the weight of the evidence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Ms. Bean filed her complaint in the Chancery Court for Franklin County, Tennessee, against her employer, Defendant CKR Industries, seeking to recover unpaid benefits under the Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act for work-related injuries. Ms. Bean alleged that she suffered injuries as a result of exposure to chemicals in use at the CKR Plant. The case was consolidated with three (3) other cases for trial due to significant similarities in the cases. The opinion of the Court on the first issue is contained in the case of Angela K. Hill v. Royal Insurance Company and CKR Industries, Inc., No. 1S1-955-CH-71, filed simultaneously with this opinion. The Court held that the trial court did not err in finding that a vocational disability existed based upon the testimony of the medical experts that a permanent medical restriction existed which constitutes a permanent partial disability under the W orker's Compensation Act, even though no medical impairment rating was given by any of the
Authoring Judge: Robert L. Childers, Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Jeffrey F. Stewart
Franklin County Workers Compensation Panel 10/17/96
Thomas H. Hartley v. Snap-On Tools Corporation
03S01-9603-CH-00019
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The issue presented is whether the trial court erred in finding that the plaintiff sustained a 35 percent disability to his right arm as a result of a job-related accident. The standard of review is de novo on the record accompanied with the presumption that the judgment is correct unless the evidence otherwise preponderates. TENN. R. APP. P. 13(d); T.C.A. _ 5-6-225(e)(2). The parties stipulated that the "plaintiff had incurred work-related bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome." The finding of disability to the left arm is not contested on appeal; the defendant argues that a finding of 35 percent to the right arm is excessive. The treating physician, Dr. Gorman, testified that the plaintiff's right arm was asymptomatic following corrective surgery and without impairment. Dr. Eric Roberts was employed by the plaintiff's attorney to examine and evaluate the plaintiff. He is a board-certified physical medicine specialist. He testified that he performed extensive testing of the plaintiff, reviewed the voluminous medical reports and believed that the plaintiff had a 2 percent impairment to his right arm, based on AMA Guidelines. The deposition of Dr. Roberts is unusually lengthy, and we have considered it in depth. Henson v. City of Lawenceburg, 851 S.W.2d 89, 812 (Tenn. 1993). The plaintiff apparently had some non-job-related problems with his right elbow which are not fully recounted in the record. The defendant argues that most, if not all, of any impairment to the plaintiff's right arm is attributable to these problems of which both experts were aware and considered. While we are able to asses the weight of testoimony by deposition as well as the trial judge, It is not within our province to substitute our judgment for that of the trial judge; and we cannot find that the evidence preponderates against his finding that the plaintiff sustained a 35
Authoring Judge: William H. Inman, Senior Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. G. Richard Johnson,
Washington County Workers Compensation Panel 10/16/96
Greene County, Tennessee v. Lisa Ward, Jarrod Ward and Jordan Ward
03S01-9510-CH-00116
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. These cases were instituted by Greene County, Tennessee, plaintiff, against the dependents of William Guy Ward, deceased, and Robert John Desormeaux, deceased, defendants, to determine whether the deaths of the two individuals are compensable under the Workers' Compensation laws of our state. The trial court determined the claims were not compensable as their deaths did not arise out of and in the course of their employment. Defendants have appealed insisting the evidence preponderates against this finding. William Guy Ward and Robert John Desormeaux were part-time auxiliary officers of the Greene County Sheriff's Department. They died as a result of an airplane crash on the night of July 11, 1994, at about 11: p.m. The airplane was being operated by Officer Desormeaux and Officer W ard was riding as a passenger. The record indicates auxiliary officers received limited training as compared to the training of a regular certified deputy sheriff. As auxiliary officers, they were scheduled to work twice a month for 8-16 hours, and this assignment was on weekends because the Sheriff's Department was usually busier at this time during the week. Auxiliary officers were always assigned to work with a regular certified deputy sheriff on patrol and were paid $5. per hour when performing scheduled work. The evidence indicates an auxiliary officer could work at other times with permission but would not be compensated for this work activity. Officers Ward and Desormeaux had been auxiliary officers for about one year, and their work activity with the Sheriff's Department had been riding with and assisting a regular deputy on patrol. As auxiliary officers, they were bonded deputies. The Auxiliary Organization Manual Of The Greene County Sheriff's Department provided auxiliary personnel shall follow the direction of full-time 2
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Dennis H. Inman
Greene County Workers Compensation Panel 10/15/96
Shelby Williams Industries v. Alton Sane
03S01-9601-CH-00004
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Plaintiff, Shelby Williams Industries, Inc., instituted suit against Defendant, Alton Sane, seeking a determination as to whether the defendant had sustained a work-related injury which was compensable. The Chancellor found the claim to be compensable and fixed defendant's permanent partial disability at fifty percent to the body as a whole. The employer has appealed insisting the evidence is not sufficient to support the award and that the evidence preponderates against the trial court's findings. The employee is forty years old and has a twelfth-grade education. He testified he sustained an injury on July 12, 1994, while assembling chair backs; he was using a two-wheel dolly and, as he rolled it, a chair frame started to slide off and he attempted to catch it with the dolly in one hand and the frame in the other hand; while in this position, he felt a jolt in his low back; the next morning his legs tingled, and there was a numb feeling. He was seen at the hospital emergency room and was released; he also saw the company physician and later an orthopedic surgeon; he returned to work on August 3, 1994. The employee told the court he was injured again on October 7, 1994, while doing the same type work; he said, while in a twisted position, he bent over to get a chair seat; as he was reaching for the seat, he sneezed, and it felt like he had been shot; he saw the company doctor again and the orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed the problem as a ruptured disc; surgery was performed during November, 1994; and he had not been released to return to work as of the date of the trial on August 31, 1995. Dr. William Foster, an orthopedic surgeon, testified by deposition and stated he saw defendant shortly after both the July and October incidents; his opinion in July was that he had suffered a lumbar strain with a possible ruptured dis,c but he did not do further testing as his patient seemed to improve and returned to work; he 2
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Dennis H. Inman,
Hamblen County Workers Compensation Panel 10/15/96
Vanessa Phillips v. Pennsylvania National Insurance Company
03S01-9512-CV-00128
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer contends (1) that the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the employee suffered an injury by accident in the course of her employment, (2) that the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the employee's permanent impairment is causally related to her employment, (3) that the trial court erred in awarding medical expenses of an unauthorized provider, and (4) that the trial court abused its discretion with respect to the award of discretionary costs. The panel concludes that the judgment should be reversed, for the reasons set forth below. The employee or claimant, Vanessa Phillips, now Vanessa Dunkhase, is a thirty-three year old graduate of Jefferson County High School, who was employed as a boarder for Tennessee Machine & Hosiery. The employer manufactures socks, among other things. In the production process, damp socks are delivered in boxes or buggies to a pressing machine, where boarders remove them one at a time and place them on a form to be machine dried and pressed before being packaged for delivery and sale. On February 2, 1993, the claimant was treated by a dentist for an abscessed tooth. The next day, she asked to be excused from work, but the request was denied by the employer. After working a full shift for another employer, Hardee's, she reported to work at approximately 3:3 p.m. About an hour later, she ran to the bathroom crying. Another employee checked on her but she did not claim any work related injury. The co-worker summoned the claimant's supervisor, Jim Sullivan. The claimant told Sullivan that she was sick with an upset 2
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Ben W. Hooper, Ii,
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 10/15/96
Vanessa Phillips v. Pennsylvania National Insurance Company
03S01-9512-CV-00128
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. section 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer contends (1) that the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the employee suffered an injury by accident in the course of her employment, (2) that the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the employee's permanent impairment is causally related to her employment, (3) that the trial court erred in awarding medical expenses of an unauthorized provider, and (4) that the trial court abused its discretion with respect to the award of discretionary costs. The panel concludes that the judgment should be reversed, for the reasons set forth below. The employee or claimant, Vanessa Phillips, now Vanessa Dunkhase, is a thirty-three year old graduate of Jefferson County High School, who was employed as a boarder for Tennessee Machine & Hosiery. The employer manufactures socks, among other things. In the production process, damp socks are delivered in boxes or buggies to a pressing machine, where boarders remove them one at a time and place them on a form to be machine dried and pressed before being packaged for delivery and sale. On February 2, 1993, the claimant was treated by a dentist for an abscessed tooth. The next day, she asked to be excused from work, but the request was denied by the employer. After working a full shift for another employer, Hardee's, she reported to work at approximately 3:3 p.m. About an hour later, she ran to the bathroom crying. Another employee checked on her but she did not claim any work related injury. The co-worker summoned the claimant's supervisor, Jim Sullivan. The claimant told Sullivan that she was sick with an upset 2
Authoring Judge: Joe C. Loser, Jr., Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Ben W. Hooper, Ii,
Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 10/15/96
Shelby Williams Industries v. Alton Sane
03S01-9601-CH-00004
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Plaintiff, Shelby Williams Industries, Inc., instituted suit against Defendant, Alton Sane, seeking a determination as to whether the defendant had sustained a work-related injury which was compensable. The Chancellor found the claim to be compensable and fixed defendant's permanent partial disability at fifty percent to the body as a whole. The employer has appealed insisting the evidence is not sufficient to support the award and that the evidence preponderates against the trial court's findings. The employee is forty years old and has a twelfth-grade education. He testified he sustained an injury on July 12, 1994, while assembling chair backs; he was using a two-wheel dolly and, as he rolled it, a chair frame started to slide off and he attempted to catch it with the dolly in one hand and the frame in the other hand; while in this position, he felt a jolt in his low back; the next morning his legs tingled, and there was a numb feeling. He was seen at the hospital emergency room and was released; he also saw the company physician and later an orthopedic surgeon; he returned to work on August 3, 1994. The employee told the court he was injured again on October 7, 1994, while doing the same type work; he said, while in a twisted position, he bent over to get a chair seat; as he was reaching for the seat, he sneezed, and it felt like he had been shot; he saw the company doctor again and the orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed the problem as a ruptured disc; surgery was performed during November, 1994; and he had not been released to return to work as of the date of the trial on August 31, 1995. Dr. William Foster, an orthopedic surgeon, testified by deposition and stated he saw defendant shortly after both the July and October incidents; his opinion in July was that he had suffered a lumbar strain with a possible ruptured dis,c but he did not do further testing as his patient seemed to improve and returned to work; he 2
Authoring Judge: Roger E. Thayer, Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Dennis H. Inman,
Hamblen County Workers Compensation Panel 10/15/96
St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company and Lineal Group, Inc. v. Cecil Carrick
01S01-9509-CV-00146
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court awarded Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff 85% permanent partial disability to the left lower extremity. Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant below appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in finding that the employee's testimonywas credible; that the employee failed to prove that he sustained a permanent injury which arose out of and in the course of his employment; that the employee failed to give proper notice of his injury; that the evidence does not support an award of 85% to the lower extremity; and that the medical treatment awarded by the trialcourt was unauthorized and should not have been allowed. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff worked at Samsonite for 3 years. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff's other work experience includes growing tobacco and peppers, raising cattle, and performing various odd jobs. Defendant/Counter- Plaintiff has a high school education and some training in electronics. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff's duties at Samsonite included counting and transferring chairs from one line to another. This involved shifting his weight from one leg to the other. It also involved spending long periods of time on his feet while working on a concrete floor. Because Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff suffered several strokes since the time of the injury and was unable to remember many of the specific facts surrounding his injury so as to be unavailable, the trial court relied on Defendant/Counter- Plaintiff's deposition testimony. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff was 55 years old on the date that he gave his deposition testimony. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff testified that he suffered from pain in his left knee. For four or five months prior tothe injury complained of, Defendant/Counter- Plaintiff's leg would swell from hip down to ankle. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff told his foreman about the problems with his legs
Authoring Judge: Robert L. Childers, Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Robert E. Corlew
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96
St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company and Lineal Group, Inc. v. Cecil Carrick
01S01-9509-CV-00146
This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with TENN. CODE ANN. _ 5-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court awarded Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff 85% permanent partial disability to the left lower extremity. Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant below appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in finding that the employee's testimonywas credible; that the employee failed to prove that he sustained a permanent injury which arose out of and in the course of his employment; that the employee failed to give proper notice of his injury; that the evidence does not support an award of 85% to the lower extremity; and that the medical treatment awarded by the trialcourt was unauthorized and should not have been allowed. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff worked at Samsonite for 3 years. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff's other work experience includes growing tobacco and peppers, raising cattle, and performing various odd jobs. Defendant/Counter- Plaintiff has a high school education and some training in electronics. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff's duties at Samsonite included counting and transferring chairs from one line to another. This involved shifting his weight from one leg to the other. It also involved spending long periods of time on his feet while working on a concrete floor. Because Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff suffered several strokes since the time of the injury and was unable to remember many of the specific facts surrounding his injury so as to be unavailable, the trial court relied on Defendant/Counter- Plaintiff's deposition testimony. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff was 55 years old on the date that he gave his deposition testimony. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff testified that he suffered from pain in his left knee. For four or five months prior tothe injury complained of, Defendant/Counter- Plaintiff's leg would swell from hip down to ankle. Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff told his foreman about the problems with his legs
Authoring Judge: Robert L. Childers, Special Judge
Originating Judge: Hon. Robert E. Corlew
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96
Kenneth W. Leach v. Driver Power Leasing & Humboldt Express
01S01-9601-CV-00021
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Originating Judge: Hon. Randolph A. Veazey,
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96
Kenneth W. Leach v. Driver Power Leasing & Humboldt Express
01S01-9601-CV-00021
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Originating Judge: Hon. Randolph A. Veazey,
Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 10/10/96