Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 08/21/2017
Format: 08/21/2017
William H. Lewis v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00738-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner William O. Shults

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.

Workers Compensation Panel 08/08/17
Jason Baker v. Total Air Group LLC f/k/a Tunica Group LLC, ET AL.
W2016-00965-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jim Kyle

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.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/07/17
Steven Bell v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
W2015-01675-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Paul G. Summers
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Michael Maloan

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.

Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 08/07/17
Jenny Craig Operations, Inc. v. Lori Reel
M2016-01775-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

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.

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 08/04/17
Joseph Kolby Willis v. All Staff, et al
M2016-01143-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Paul G. Summers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joshua Baker

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.

Workers Compensation Panel 08/03/17
Clifford Barker v. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
W2015-01893-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Paul G. Summers
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Michael Maloan

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.

Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 08/02/17
Jeffrey Scott Beck v. City of Brownsville, et al.
W2016-01402-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge George R. Ellis

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.

Haywood County Workers Compensation Panel 07/18/17
Barbara Joan Rains v. Wal-Mart Associates Inc.
W2016-00636-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles C. McGinley

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.

Hardin County Workers Compensation Panel 07/18/17
James Russell, et al. v. Transco Lines, Inc., et al.
E2015-02509-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge James E. Lauderback

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.

Washington County Workers Compensation Panel 06/20/17
Charles Steven Blocker v. Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, et al.
E2016-01053-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Elizabeth C. Asbury

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.

Claiborne County Workers Compensation Panel 05/18/17
Victor Dunn v. Tradesmen International, Inc.
E2015-01930-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert E. Lee Davies, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James E. Lauderback

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.

Johnson County Workers Compensation Panel 05/10/17
Donald Ray Brown v. Zurich American Insurance Company
E2016-00237-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert E. Lee Davies, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Telford E. Forgety

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.

Sevier County Workers Compensation Panel 04/21/17
Tracy Payne v. D & D Electric, et al.
E2016-01177-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas L. Wyatt

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. 

Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 04/18/17
Paula Dugger v. Home Health Care Of Middle Tennessee, et al
M2016-01284-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dale Tipps

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.

Workers Compensation Panel 04/13/17
Kelcey Williams v. Ajax Turner Company
M2016-00638-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Howard W. Wilson

On August 2, 2012, an employee sustained a compensable injury when a co-worker ran over the back of his left foot with a forklift. The employee received temporary disability benefits and medical benefits from his employer. The employee’s treating physician assigned a 20% permanent anatomical impairment to his left leg as a result of the injury. The employer sought a second opinion, and after performing a medical records review, the employer’s physician opined that employee had sustained only 5% permanent impairment to his left leg due to the injury. Based on this second opinion, the employer requested an evaluation through the medical impairment registry (“MIR”) program. After examining the employee and reviewing his medical records, the MIR physician also opined that the employee had sustained 5% permanent impairment to his left leg. However, the trial court found the employee had rebutted by clear and convincing evidence the presumption of correctness statutorily attached to the MIR physician’s rating, applied a multiplier of four, and awarded the employee 80% permanent partial disability (“PPD”) to the left leg. The employer has appealed, contending the trial court erred in finding that the employee had rebutted the MIR physician’s impairment rating by clear and convincing evidence and in applying a multiplier of four. The employee, in contrast, contends that the trial court erred in considering the MIR physician’s opinion at all. This 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 modify the trial court’s judgment and remand to the trial court for entry of an order consistent with this decision.

Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 04/12/17
Marilyn Miller Tansic v. Atkinson Enterprises, Inc., et al
M2016-01138-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash
Trial Court Judge: Judge Howard W. Wilson

Marilyn Miller Tansil (“Employee”) obtained temporary total disability benefits after injuring herself while mopping. Atkinson Enterprises, Inc. (“Employer”) acknowledged a compensable injury, but claimed Employee was not entitled to temporary benefits because she worked for her own company while unable to work for Employer. The trial court found Employee performed only token tasks at her company during her injury period, which did not constitute “work,” and thus, denied Employer’s requested credit against the permanent partial disability award. On appeal, Employer challenges the award of temporary total disability benefits as well as the multiplier used. 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.

Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 04/12/17
Billy Joe Brewer v. Dillingham Trucking, Inc., et al
M2016-00611-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

Employee, a truck driver, fell while climbing into the cab of Employer’s truck, which was parked at Employee’s home. Employer initially accepted the claim as compensable, but later denied it, asserting that Employee was not in the course of his employment when the injury occurred. The trial court found the injury to be compensable and awarded benefits. The trial court also granted a post-trial motion ordering Employer to pay for Employee’s independent medical evaluation (IME). 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. The order requiring Employer to pay the cost of the IME is reversed. The remainder of the judgment is affirmed.

Lawrence County Workers Compensation Panel 04/11/17
Brandon Thompson v. United Parcel Service, Inc., et al
M2015-02526-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Paul G. Summers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kelvin D. Jones

Brandon Thompson (“Employee”) worked as a delivery driver for United Parcel Service (“Employer”). He sustained a compensable injury to his lower back on January 18, 2012. He did not return to work for Employer. After the Benefit Review process was exhausted, he filed this action, seeking permanent total disability benefits. The trial court concluded that Employee was not totally disabled and awarded 44% permanent partial disability benefits. Employee has appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding that he was not permanently and totally disabled. He also claims that the judgment entered by the trial court is defective because it does not include certain findings. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 02/17/17
Tony Gray v. Vision Hospitality Group, Inc., et al
M2016-00116-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman

Tony Gray (“Employee”) sustained a back injury on August 6, 2013 while working as a chief engineer at the Hyatt Place Hotel Airport in Nashville, Tennessee (“Employer”). Employee’s injury occurred while lifting and moving thirty rolls of carpet padding. After notifying Employer of his back injury, Employee was referred to Concentra Medical Clinic, where he was subsequently diagnosed with a back sprain and prescribed physical therapy. Employee experienced a slight improvement in his condition and was released in September 2013 to full-time work for a trial period in a light duty capacity. Upon his return to Employer, Employee was terminated for several issues relating to his job performance. Employee’s symptoms worsened, and he eventually required lower back surgery. He did not return to work for any employer thereafter. Based on Employee’s physical injuries, the trial court determined that Employee was permanently and totally disabled. Employer appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in its determination of permanent and total disability. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, the appeal was referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Upon our review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. 

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 01/26/17
Holly L. Grissom v. United Parcel Service, Inc., et al.
M2016-00127-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy V. Hollars

In October 2011, Holly Grissom (“Employee’) entered into a settlement agreement with United Parcel Service (“Employer”), resolving her workers’ compensation claim for an April 2007 injury.  In April 2013, Employer declined to authorize a procedure ordered by the authorized physician.  Employee filed a motion to compel Employer to authorize the procedure.  The trial court ordered Employer to pay $187.00 to Employee and to provide future medical care to her.  A second motion was filed, and the parties entered into an agreed order which again required Employer to pay $187.00 and reimburse Employee for mileage to and from medical treatment.  Employee petitioned for an award of attorney’s fees.  The court awarded fees and expenses in the amount of $27,353.63.  Employer has appealed from that order.  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.

White County Workers Compensation Panel 01/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Dylan Ward Hutchins
E2016-00187-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The defendant, Dylan Ward Hutchins, appeals the Washington County Criminal Court’s denial of his request for judicial diversion from his mitigated statutory rape conviction, arguing that the trial court failed to consider and properly weigh all relevant factors and improperly considered facts outside the record in rendering its decision. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court denying diversion. However, we remand to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment reflecting the conviction offense as mitigated statutory rape.

Washington County Workers Compensation Panel 12/20/16
Eric Benson v. Southern Electric Corporation of Mississippi
W2015-02053-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William C. Cole

Eric Benson (“Employee”) worked for Southern Electric Corporation of Mississippi (“Employer”) as a lineman. On July 12, 2011, he sustained an electric shock injury while working on a power line. The mechanism of the injury is not known, as Employee has no recollection of the incident nor were there any witnesses. He sustained burns to his back and groin area  and the left side of his head. He bit his tongue severely and injured his right knee. He further asserted he developed depression, headaches and post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) as a result of the accident and contended he was totally and permanently disabled due to his injuries. Employer disputed the assertion. After a trial on the merits, the Chancery Court for McNairy County found Employee permanently and totally disabled and entered judgment accordingly. Employer appealed. The Supreme Court referred the appeal 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.

McNairy County Workers Compensation Panel 12/19/16
Ulysses Strawter v. Mueller Company
E2015-02374-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Pamela A. Fleenor
Ulysses Strawter ("Employee") was injured on August 11, 2012, in the course of his employment with Mueller Company ("Employer"). After several months of temporary disability, he returned to work at his pre-injury job. Subsequently, his position was eliminated. He remained with Employer but was assigned to a lower-paying job. He filed an action for workers' compensation benefits in the Chancery Court for Hamilton County. The trial court held that Employee had a meaningful return to work and that his award of permanent disability benefits was limited to one and one-half times the impairment rating. Between the trial and the filing of the court's decision, Employee returned to his previous job at a wage higher than his pre-injury wage. The trial court's decision was not appealed. During the months after entry of judgment, Employee was re-assigned to a lower paying position. He filed a petition for reconsideration. The trial court held that Employee was entitled to reconsideration and awarded additional permanent disability benefits in a stipulated amount. 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. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
 
Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 12/16/16
Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation v. Gerry Shavers
E2015-02005-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey Hollingsworth
Gerry Shavers ("Employee") worked for Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation d/b/a Burner Systems International, Inc. ("Employer"), as a senior manufacturing engineer. In 2008, he developed symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. His claim was accepted as compensable. He continued to work at the same job until August 2009, when he was terminated for violation of company policy. The primary issue at trial was whether his award of permanent disability benefits was subject to the one and one-half times impairment cap set out in Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-241(d)(1)(A) (2008). Finding that the cap applied because Employee was terminated for misconduct, the trial court awarded permanent partial disability benefits of 46.5% to the body as a whole. Judgment was entered in accordance with the trial court's findings, and 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.
 
Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 12/16/16
American Mining Insurance Company v. Terry H. Campbell
M2015-01478-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge William B. Acree, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey F. Stewart

In 1992, Terry Campbell (“Employee”) suffered injuries to his lumbar and cervical spine as a result of a workplace accident. In 1998, the trial court awarded permanent and total disability benefits and ordered the employer’s insurer, American Mining Insurance Company (“Insurer”), to provide medical treatment in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-204. Dr. Gregory Ball was Employee’s treating physician. In 2008, and again in 2010, Employee filed contempt petitions alleging Insurer failed to provide medical treatment recommended by Dr. Ball. On each occasion, the trial court found in favor of Employee. In 2013, Insurer filed a petition, asserting Dr. Ball’s treatment was neither reasonable nor necessary and seeking the removal of Dr. Ball as Employee’s physician. The trial court denied the petition and awarded attorney fees to Employee. Insurer appealed, asserting the trial court erred by denying its petition and awarding attorney fees. The Supreme Court referred this appeal 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.

Grundy County Workers Compensation Panel 12/09/16