Workers' Compensation Opinions

Format: 04/16/2021
Format: 04/16/2021
Nesreen Boutros v. Amazon.Com DEDC, LLC Et Al.
M2020-00455-SC-R3-WC

Nesreen Boutros (“Employee”) suffered a work-related injury to her right arm and neck while working for her employer, Amazon.com DEDC, LLC (“Employer”), on April 23, 2015. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims (the “trial court”) held Employee suffered a compensable injury and was entitled to lifetime medical benefits and temporary total disability (“TTD”) benefits, but suffered no permanent impairment. Employer appealed the award of TTD benefits and additional medical benefits, and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (the “Appeals Board”) affirmed. Employer appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for consideration and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. After careful consideration, we affirm the decision of the Appeals Board and adopt its well-reasoned opinion in its entirety as set forth in the attached Appendix.  

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge William B. Acree
Originating Judge: Judge Kenneth M. Switzer
Workers Compensation Panel 04/08/21
Memphis Light Gas & Water Division v. Charles Nesbit
W2019-02275-SC-WCM-WC

Charles Nesbit (“Employee”) worked as a bucket truck driver for Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division (“Employer”). Employee sought workers’ compensation benefits for a gradually occurring injury to his knees. Relevant to the issues on appeal, the trial court found Employee suffered a compensable gradually occurring injury at work, and gave timely notice of his claim. Employer has appealed. The 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 find that Employee did not give timely notice of his claim, and we reverse the judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Judge JoeDae Jenkins
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 03/26/21
Charles Hopper v. UGN, Inc.
W2020-00524-SC-WCM-WC

Charles Hopper filed this workers’ compensation action after suffering a work-related injury to his neck. The trial court found that Mr. Hopper is permanently and totally disabled. Employer concedes that Mr. Hopper suffered a work-related injury but argues that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s judgment as to permanent and total disability. Employer also argues that any award should be limited to 1.5 times the impairment rating. The appeal has been referred to this Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Judge James Butler
Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 03/26/21
John Pearson v. Memphis Light Gas & Water Division
W2020-00462-SC-WCM-WC

Plaintiff-Appellant John Pearson appeals the decision of the Court of Workers’ Compensation declining to award him benefits for a spinal cord injury allegedly sustained during the course and scope of his employment. The trial court held that Mr. Pearson’s claim was barred by the applicable statute of limitations and, alternatively, that he had failed to prove that his job installing streetlights was the actual and proximate cause of his injury. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. Because we conclude that Mr. Pearson filed his petition more than one year after he discovered his injury, the statute of limitations bars his claim. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Judge Deana C. Seymour
Workers Compensation Panel 03/24/21
Jeffrey Garner v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
W2020-00280-SC-R3-WC

Employee filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits alleging he sustained high-frequency hearing loss during his employment with Employer. Employer disputed both causation and the method used by Employee’s physician’s to ascertain anatomical impairment. After considering the proof, the trial court determined the hearing loss was caused by Employee’s employment and awarded benefits. Employer has appealed, arguing Employee’s hearing loss was not primarily caused by his employment and contending the trial court erred in adopting an anatomical impairment rating method not “used and accepted by the medical community.” 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 chancery court’s causation findings but we reverse the judgment in all other respects.

Authoring Judge: Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Judge Michael Maloan
Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 03/19/21
Sandra Cummings v. Express Courier International, Inc.
E2020-00548-SC-R3-WC
Sandra Cummings was injured at work on April 29, 2010, and February 7, 2012. She filed complaints against Express Courier International, Inc. ("Employer"), Hartford Insurance Company ("Hartford"), and Zurich American Insurance Company ("Zurich"). The trial court found that Ms. Cummings is permanently and totally disabled as the result of an injury to the body and that Employer is entitled to an offset based on Ms. Cummings's social security benefits. Tenn. Code Ann.§ 50-6-207(4)(A)(i) (2014) (applicable to injuries occurring prior to July 1, 2014). In this appeal, Ms. Cummings argues that the trial court erred in applying the social security offset because her injury was to a scheduled member. In addition, Hartford argues that the trial court erred in ordering it to pay temporary total disability benefits because Zurich was the insurance carrier at the time of Ms. Cummings's second injury. The appeal has been referred to this Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. See Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 51. We affirm the trial court's judgment that Ms. Cummings is permanently and totally disabled as a result of an injury to the body and that Employer is entitled to a social security offset. We modify the judgment by requiring Zurich to reimburse Hartford for the payment of temporary total disability benefits.
Authoring Judge: Honorable Robert E. Lee Davies, Senior Judge
Originating Judge: Chancellor Pamela A. Fleenor
Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 02/17/21
Latoya Paris v. McKee Foods Corp.
E2020-00358-SC-R3-WC

The employee in this workers’ compensation case appeals the trial court’s ruling that the independent intervening cause principle applies to relieve her former employer of liability for continued benefits under the parties’ settlement of the employee’s prior claim. After the employee’s original compensable injury while working for the defendant employer, the parties settled the claim. The employee was placed on lifting restrictions. The trial court held the employee negligently exceeded those lifting restrictions and this conduct constituted an independent intervening cause that relieved the original employer from liability for continued workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court also held, however, that the employee’s negligent conduct did not result in a new injury. On appeal, we hold that, if the employee’s activity results in only an increase in pain but there is no new injury or aggravation of the original injury, the independent intervening cause principle is not applicable to relieve the original employer of liability. We reverse the trial court’s holding that the independent intervening cause principle relieves the defendant employer of liability for workers’ compensation benefits. We affirm the trial court’s holding that there was not a new injury or an aggravation of the employee’s condition and hold that the employee is entitled to statutory medical benefits, attorney fees, and costs.

Authoring Judge: Judge Holly Kirby
Originating Judge: Chancellor Pamela A. Fleenor
Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 02/16/21
Vicki Pillow v. State of Tennessee
M2019-02274-SC-R3-WC

An employee sustained severe injuries when she was run over by a public transit bus on her way to work. The employer denied the employee’s workers’ compensation claim, and she filed a complaint with the Tennessee Claims Commission. Both parties filed competing motions for summary judgment on the issue of whether the employee was within the course and scope of her employment when the injury occurred. The Claims Commission answered the question in the negative and determined that the case was subject to the “coming and going” rule. Therefore, the Claims Commission granted summary judgment in favor of the employer. Upon our review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the decision of the Claims Commission.

Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Originating Judge: Commissioner James A. Haltom
Workers Compensation Panel 12/11/20
Richard Vaughn v. City of Murfreesboro And The Second Injury Fund
M2018-02048-SC-R3-WC

Employee injured his left shoulder during a training session. He was diagnosed with a torn shoulder ligament which required a surgical repair of the left shoulder. Nine months later, Employee’s treating physician performed a posterior capsular release of the left shoulder. When his symptoms failed to improve, Employer authorized follow up care with a different orthopedic surgeon, who performed another surgery to release the bicep tendon that had been previously repaired. Employer was provided with a letter from Employee’s treating physician that Employee’s restrictions had been lifted. Employee was required to take a return to duty test, which he ultimately failed. Subsequently, Employee developed intermittent violent movements of his head and was diagnosed with conversion disorder. At the request of Employee’s counsel, Employee underwent an independent medical examination by a psychiatrist, who concluded that the conversion disorder arose out of Employee’s work injury. However, because the psychiatrist noted issues regarding symptom magnification, he reduced Employee’s psychiatric impairment rating to ten percent. Following a trial, the court awarded benefits for injuries to Employee’s left shoulder and for the psychiatric injury; however, it found that Employee was not permanently and totally disabled. The trial court also declined to apply a multiplier to the impairment rating for the psychiatric injury and award temporary total disability related to that injury. The 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. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Judge J. Mark Rogers
Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 10/07/20
Frederick Perry v. Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corporation
W2019-01549-SC-R3-WC

Frederick Perry (“Employee”) worked for Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corporation (“Employer”) at a variety of jobs beginning in 1988. On February 22, 2013, Employee was working on a cutting machine cutting steel elevator panels. While attempting to move a large steel panel from the work table to a pallet with a jib crane, Employee slipped and fell. Employee was determined to have suffered a torn labrum in his right hip and a torn meniscus in his right knee, which were surgically repaired. Employee’s treating orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Adam Smith, placed Employee at maximum medical improvement (“MMI”) on June 13, 2014. He assigned Employee anatomical impairment ratings of 3% to the lower right extremity for the right hip injury and 3% to the lower right extremity for the right knee injury, for a combined anatomical impairment rating of 6% to the lower right extremity or 2% to the body as a whole. Dr. Smith placed certain restrictions on Employee. Employer returned Employee to work at another job accommodating his restrictions and providing a higher rate of pay. On March 3, 2015, Employee underwent an independent medical examination by physical medicine and rehab physician, Dr. Samuel Jae Jin Chung, on referral from his attorney. Dr. Chung diagnosed Employee as suffering “[r]esidual from right knee injury requiring extensive surgical intervention with ongoing symptoms of right patellofemoral arthritis” and “[r]esidual from right hip injury secondary to fall with status post surgical intervention with ongoing symptomatology.” Dr. Chung assigned Employee anatomical impairment ratings of 15% to the right lower extremity for the right knee injury and 22% to the right lower extremity for the right hip injury, for a combined anatomical impairment rating of 34% to the lower right extremity or 13% to the body as a whole. Dr. Chung placed certain restrictions on Employee and suggested the possibility of need for a future right knee replacement. A Benefit Review Conference was held on December 2, 2015, resulting in an impasse. The parties were unable to resolve the extent of Employee’s anatomical impairment or his vocational impairment. Employee brought suit. The parties stipulated or agreed that Employee had received all the temporary total disability benefits to which he was entitled, Employer had paid all authorized medical expenses, and the 1.5 multiplier cap applied. The trial court rejected the anatomical impairment ratings of both Dr. Smith and Dr. Chung and adopted its own modified anatomical impairment ratings of 18% to the lower right extremity for the right hip injury and 14% to the lower right extremity for the right knee injury, for a combined anatomical impairment rating of 29% to the lower right extremity or 12% to the body as a whole. The trial court awarded Employee permanent partial disability benefits based upon a vocational impairment of 18% to the body as a whole. Employer has appealed 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 in part and reverse in part the judgment of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins
Originating Judge: Judge Martha B. Brasfield
Hardeman County Workers Compensation Panel 09/16/20
Robert Rodgers v. Rent-A-Center East Inc. ET AL.
W2019-01106-SC-R3-WC

Employee was injured in an automobile accident in the course and scope of his employment with Employer. The authorized treating physician and an authorized second opinion physician concluded that Employee suffered zero percent (0%) permanent impairment from his injury and released Employee to return to work. Employee did not successfully return to work and sought private medical treatment, including an independent medical examination (“IME”). The Employee’s IME physician assigned a seven percent (7%) permanent impairment rating. Employer then sought an independent medical evaluation from a physician chosen from the Medical Impairment Registry (“MIR”). The MIR physician assigned a two percent (2%) permanent impairment rating. The trial court adopted the seven percent (7%) permanent impairment rating and awarded permanent partial disability benefits based on a multiplier of three, having determined Employee failed to make a meaningful return to work, for an award of 21% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. The court further awarded 104 weeks of temporary total disability benefits and certain discretionary costs. Employer has appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in adopting the rating of Employee’s IME physician rather than the MIR physician’s rating; in determining Employee did not make a meaningful return to work; in awarding extended temporary total disability benefits; and in awarding Employee his discretionary costs. 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 of the trial court’s judgment and the record on appeal, we modify in part, affirm in part, and reverse in part.

Authoring Judge:
Originating Judge:
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 07/29/20
Kenneth Brian Coates v. Tyson Foods, Inc.
W2019-00904-SC-R3-WC

Kenneth Brian Coates (“Employee”) worked as a feed mill supervisor for Tyson Foods, Inc. (“Employer”). On June 6, 2013, Employee was using a sledge hammer to help unload soybean meal from a railcar when he started to feel pain in his elbows. Employee sought treatment with his family physician, who diagnosed him with tennis elbow in both arms, and informed him that his symptoms may resolve. On December 23, 2014, Employee met with an orthopedic surgeon who recommended surgery. The surgery was performed on Employee’s right elbow in January 2015 and on his left elbow in March 2015. Employee did not miss any work related to his injury until the date of his first surgery. Employee did not return to work for Employer following his surgeries. Employee filed a Request for a Benefit Review Conference with the Tennessee Department of Labor, which resulted in an impasse. Employee brought suit, and the trial court awarded him back temporary total disability benefits and permanent partial disability benefits. Relevant to the issues on appeal, the trial court determined that Employee’s claim was timely filed and that he did not have a meaningful return to work. Employer has appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Originating Judge: Judge Michael M. Maloan
Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 07/28/20
Mary Denson v. VIP Home Nursing And Rehabilitation Service, LLC
M2019-02145-SC-R3-WC

The only issue in this workers’ compensation appeal is whether the trial court erred in awarding attorney’s fees. An employee sustained a compensable injury to her back at work. The settlement agreement resolving her workers’ compensation claim required her employer to pay her future medical expenses. When her employer refused to pay for prescribed pain medication, she filed a petition for contempt and to compel payment. After her employer reversed its denial of payment, the trial court awarded her $7,500 in attorney’s fees. We affirm the judgment and remand the case to the trial court for determination of reasonable attorney’s fees to be awarded to the employee for this appeal.

Authoring Judge: Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Originating Judge: Judge Jonathan Young
Putnam County Workers Compensation Panel 07/21/20
Mack Bilbrey v. Active USA, LLC Et Al.
M2019-00720-SC-R3-WC

This workers’ compensation appeal requires us to determine whether Employee elected to receive workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to Texas law and is, therefore, precluded from recovering in Tennessee under the doctrine of election of remedies. The trial court applied the election of remedies doctrine based on the Employee’s filing of a Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation Form-041, titled “Employee’s Claim for Compensation for a Work-Related Injury or Occupational Disease” (“Claim for Compensation”) with the Texas Department of Insurance (“TDI”), his filing of a “Request to Schedule, Re-Schedule, or Cancel a Benefit Review Conference (BRC)” (“Request to Schedule a Benefit Review Conference” or “Request”) with the TDI, his consultation with an ombudsman in the Texas Office of Injured Employee Counsel, and his “knowing and voluntary” acceptance of temporary total and medical benefits issued pursuant to Texas law. The trial court therefore determined that Employee was precluded from recovering workers’ compensation benefits in Tennessee. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. After careful consideration, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Originating Judge: Chancellor Charles K. Smith
Trousdale County Workers Compensation Panel 07/21/20
August Hedrick v. Penske Truck Leasing Corporation
W2019-01522-SC-R3-WC

August Hedrick suffered injuries to his back and shoulder in the course of his employment with Penske Truck Leasing Corporation (“Employer”). The trial court found that Mr. Hedrick is permanently and totally disabled as a result of these injuries. Employer concedes that Mr. Hedrick suffered work-related injuries but argues that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s judgment as to permanent and total disability. The appeal has been referred to this Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. After reviewing the evidence, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge:
Originating Judge:
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 06/26/20
Charles R. Goodwin v. Morristown Driver's Services, Inc. et al.
E2019-01517-SC-R3-WC

A Georgia resident, employed by a Tennessee company, filed a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia for an injury he sustained in Tennessee. Later, the employee also filed a workers’ compensation claim in Tennessee for the same injury. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation dismissed the Georgia claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Tennessee Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims held that the employee’s claim was not barred based on the election of remedies doctrine. In a split decision, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board reversed, holding that the employee’s claim was barred because he had first pursued a claim for benefits in Georgia. We reverse and hold that the employee’s Tennessee claim is not barred because his Georgia claim had been dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and thus the employee had no remedy to elect.

Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon Lee
Originating Judge: Judge Lisa A. Lowe
Workers Compensation Panel 06/15/20
Kevin W. Taylor v. G.UB.MK Constructors
E2019-00461-SC-R3-WC

An employee filed a workers' compensation claim alleging he suffered permanent hearing loss in the course and scope of his employment. The trial court ruled that the employee's hearing loss was compensable and, based on an anatomical impairment rating of 14.1 percent, awarded the employee 56.4 percent vocational disability for loss of hearing in both ears. We affirm the trial court's judgment as to compensability but find that the award of vocational disability was excessive. We modify the award of vocational disability to thirty percent for loss of hearing in both ears.

Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Originating Judge: Chancellor Frank V. Williams, III
Roane County Workers Compensation Panel 06/02/20
Memphis Light Gas & Water Division v. John Pearson
W2018-01511-SC-WCM-WC

The employee appeals from the trial court’s denial of workers’ compensation benefits. The employee asserted that a slip and fall suffered at work aggravated pre-existing degenerative conditions in his left shoulder and neck, causing injuries that are compensable under Tennessee’s workers’ compensation laws. After a trial, the trial court reviewed the testimony at length and held that the employee had failed to establish a compensable injury. The employee’s appeal has been referred to this Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for oral argument and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Originating Judge: Judge JoeDae L. Jenkins
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 02/26/20
Estate of Clarence Turnage, Et Al. v. Dole Refrigerating Co., Inc.
M2019-00422-SC-R3-WC

On August 3, 2017, Clarence Turnage (“Employee”) died as a result of injuries arising out of and in the course of his employment with Dole Refrigerating Co., Inc. (“Employer”).  Employee was unmarried at the time of his death, but resided with and had a child
out-of-wedlock with Megan Black.  It was undisputed that this child, EJT, is entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits as a conclusively presumed wholly dependent child under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-210(a)(2).  Employee had two additional children out-of-wedlock, NRT and SMT, with another woman.  However, prior to his death, Employee had surrendered his parental rights to NRT and SMT, and his mother had adopted these children.  NRT and SMT sought workers’ compensation death benefits as either conclusively presumed wholly dependent children of Employee under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-210(a)(2), or, alternatively, as partial dependents of Employee under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-210(d).  The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims determined that NRT and SMT are not entitled to benefits as conclusively presumed wholly dependent children or as partial dependents.  The court awarded EJT benefits equal to fifty percent (50%) of Employee’s average weekly wage.  The court denied the motions of the guardians ad litem for EJT and for NRT and SMT for attorney’s fees and deferred any fee determination until after an appeal.  NRT and SMT appealed the decision of the Court of Workers’ Compensation 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.  We award attorney’s fees on appeal to the guardian ad litem for EJT and remand the case to the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims for a determination of the amount of such fees, together with a determination of what, if any, fees are to be awarded to the guardians ad litem for the prior proceedings in that court.

Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Originating Judge: Judge Dale A. Tipps
Workers Compensation Panel 02/12/20
James Ivy v. Memphis Light Gas & Water Division
W2019-00104-SC-R3-WC

Employee fell onto his buttocks during the course and scope of his employment with Employer and experienced left hip and shoulder pain that later radiated to his right leg. After a course of treatment, the selected treating physician and a second-opinion physician opined Employee’s pain was attributable to a degenerative condition rather than to his work injury and assigned no impairment. Because the pain persisted, Employee’s personal physician referred him to an orthopedic surgeon who opined Employee’s fall ruptured a synovial cyst which aggravated his pre-existing spine condition. The orthopedic surgeon performed surgery and later assigned a twelve percent (12%) impairment rating. A physician who conducted an independent medical records review at Employer’s request sided with the selected physician as to causation and impairment; however, a physician who performed an independent medical examination at Employee’s request agreed with the orthopedic surgeon. Following a trial, the court awarded benefits having determined that Employee met his burden of establishing causation and overcame the statutory presumption afforded the selected physician’s causation opinion. Employer 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: Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Originating Judge: Judge Felicia Corbin Johnson
Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 01/31/20
Brenda Merriweather v. UGN, INC., ET AL.
W2018-02094-SC-R3-WC

Brenda Merriweather (“Employee”) alleged she injured her left knee in the course and scope of her employment with UGN, Inc. (“Employer”). Following the trial, the trial court determined Employee did not satisfy her burden of proving causation and therefore dismissed the case. Employee appeals. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Chancellor James F. Butler
Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 01/28/20
Floyd McCall v. Ferrell Paving Co. ET AL.
W2018-01676-SC-WCM-WC

Floyd McCall (“Employee”) was a truck driver for Ferrell Paving (“Employer”). The parties stipulated that Employee sustained an injury arising out of and in the course and scope of employment on October 6, 2014, and that Employee gave timely notice of the injury. Employee received authorized medical treatment for the injury, paid for by Employer. Employee also received temporary total disability benefits for the period October 7, 2014 to February 5, 2015. Employee did not return to work for Employer following the injury. After being released from his authorized treating physician, Employee subsequently received unauthorized treatment, including surgery on his cervical spine. Employee filed this action seeking additional past temporary disability and medical benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and future medical benefits. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims determined that Employee was not entitled to any additional workers’ compensation benefits. Employee has appealed that decision. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree, Jr.
Originating Judge: Judge Amber E. Luttrell
Workers Compensation Panel 01/22/20
Darla McKnight v. Hubbell Power Systems, Et Al.
M2019-00205-SC-R3-WC

Employee filed a motion asking the trial court to require Employer to provide additional treatment for a work-related injury she suffered in March 2007. The trial court granted Employee’s motion and denied Employer’s motion to appoint a neutral physician. Employer’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. Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 51, '1.  After reviewing the evidence in the record and the parties’ arguments, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.    

Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash
Originating Judge: Judge J. Russell Parkes
Maury County Workers Compensation Panel 12/19/19
Roger Joiner v. United Parcel Services, Inc., Et Al.
M2018-01876-SC-WCM-WC

Roger Joiner (“Employee”) sustained an injury to his neck while lifting a mailbag in the course of his employment with United Parcel Service, Inc. (“Employer”) on February 26, 2016. Employer provided medical benefits, but subsequently limited those benefits to treatment of the injury at the C6-7 level of Employee’s cervical spine.  Employer refused to authorize treatment and denied benefits for injury at the C5-6 level of Employee’s cervical spine based on the opinion of his treating physician.  After a compensation hearing, the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims (the “trial court”) concluded that the causation opinion of Employee’s medical evaluator overcame the statutory presumption afforded the causation opinion of his treating physician. The trial court determined that Employee was entitled to medical benefits for treatment of his injures at the C5-6 and C6-7 levels and to permanent partial disability benefits based on medical impairment attributable to both levels.  Employer appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, which reversed the trial court’s decision, with one judge concurring in part and dissenting in part.   Employee has appealed that ruling.  The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51.  We reverse the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

Authoring Judge: Judge Amy V. Hollars
Originating Judge: Judge Joshua Davis Baker
Workers Compensation Panel 12/06/19
Ronald Brantley v. Mike Brantley, et al.
E2018-01793-SC-R3-WC

In 2009, Ronald Brantley (“Employee”) settled a workers’ compensation claim with Brantley Excavating (“Employer”) regarding a hand injury he sustained during the course and scope of his employment. Employee returned to his authorized treating physician in 2017, seeking medication for pain he was experiencing in his injured hand. The diagnostic test results were normal. The treating physician declined to prescribe pain medication and offered no further treatment. Employee subsequently moved to compel Employer to provide a panel of pain management physicians, claiming the treating physician had made a referral. The trial court concluded the treating physician did not make a referral and denied Employee’s motion, citing Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-204(j)(2)(A). 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 of the trial court.

Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree
Originating Judge: Judge Elizabeth C. Asbury
Campbell County Workers Compensation Panel 11/06/19