Workers Compensation Panel Opinions

Format: 02/16/2018
Format: 02/16/2018
Tristar Centennial Medical Center v. Dana C. Pugh
M2016-02470-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Hamilton V. Gayden, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins

Dana Pugh (“Employee”) and Tristar Centennial Medical Center (“Employer’) settled a claim for a compensable back injury to Employee after participating in and failing to resolve their dispute at a Benefit Review Conference (“BRC”). Employee later filed a motion to compel Employer to approve a surgical procedure recommended by her authorized physician and for attorney’s fees. Employer approved the surgery after another physician conducted a review of Employee’s medical records. Employee subsequently reset her motion, and the trial court awarded her attorney’s fees. Employer has appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We conclude that the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction, vacate the judgment, and dismiss the case.

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 02/15/18
Louis Garassino v. Western Express, Inc., Et Al.
M2016-02431-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joshua Baker

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

Workers Compensation Panel 02/08/18
Billy W. Tankersly v. Batesville Casket Company, Inc., Et Al.
M2016-02389-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa Jackson

Billy Tankersley (“Employee”) worked for Batesville Casket Company (“Employer”) for thirty-seven years. He injured his right shoulder and arm on December 12, 2012. He ultimately was unable to return to work. He filed this action in the Chancery Court for Coffee County seeking permanent total disability benefits. The trial court found him to be permanently and totally disabled. The award was apportioned 90% to Employer and 10% to the Second Injury Fund. Employer has appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 01/26/18
Deborah Goodman v. Schwarz Paper Company ET AL.
W2016-02594-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amber E. Luttrell

Deborah Goodman (“Employee”) sustained a back injury in the course of her work for Schwarz Paper Company (“Employer”). It is undisputed that the injury was compensable. All medical expenses were paid by Employer. Employee continued to work after her injury. The sole issue presented to the trial court was whether Employee successfully rebutted the presumption of correctness attached to the authorized treating physician’s impairment rating. Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-204(k)(7) (2014 & Supp. 2017). After a compensation hearing, the trial court ruled that Employee had not overcome the presumption. Benefits were awarded based on the treating physician’s impairment rating. Employee has appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Workers Compensation Panel 01/18/18
Lloyd Michael Harris, Jr. v. Mastec North America, Inc., Et Al.
M2016-02307-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

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

Cheatham County Workers Compensation Panel 01/09/18
Michael Mayuric v. Huff & Puff Trucking, Inc., Et Al.
M2017-00102-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

Michael Mayuric (“Employee”) was employed by Huff & Puff Trucking, Inc. (“Employer”) as an over-the-road truck driver. While driving through Minnesota, his truck slid off the road. He developed post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) after the accident. He brought this action, alleging that he was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the accident. Employer denied that Employee was totally disabled. The trial court found that Employee had sustained 80% permanent partial disability from the incident. Employer has appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 01/04/18
Jamie Jordan v. City of Murfreesboro
M2016-02446-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Howard W. Wilson

Jamie Jordan (“Employee”) is employed by the City of Murfreesboro (“Employer”) as a trash collector. He allegedly sustained a low back injury on May 22, 2012, when lifting a wet sofa into a refuse truck. Employer denied his claim for workers’ compensation benefits claiming, both, he failed to provide timely notice of his injury and his symptoms were caused by a preexisting condition. The trial court held Employee sustained a compensable injury and awarded 6% permanent partial disability benefits. Employer appeals. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm.

Rutherford County Workers Compensation Panel 12/28/17
T & B Trucking v. Terry Pigue ET AL.
W2016-01194-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge George R. Ellis

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

Crockett County Workers Compensation Panel 12/14/17
Alicia Hunt v. Dillard's Inc., ET AL.
W2016-02148-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Rhynette N. Hurd
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

This appeal challenges (1) the trial court’s factual finding that the employee was pressured to resign after incurring an on-the-job injury, and declining to cap her workers’ compensation award at one and one half (1½) times the impairment rating on that basis; (2) the total amount awarded as permanent partial disability benefits; and (3) the award of temporary total disability benefits from the date of Employee’s surgery on August 14, 2014, until Appellee reached maximum medical improvement on April 27, 2015. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 12/13/17
Jeff Pevahouse v. Gerdau Ameristeel
W2016-01864-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge James F. Russell
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler

Jeff Pevahouse (“Employee”) worked as an industrial bricklayer at Gerdau Ameristeel (“Employer”) for thirty-two years. In the fall of 2012, he developed weakness in his arms and legs and balance problems. He sought medical care for these problems and was eventually referred to a neurosurgeon, who determined that Employee had a herniated cervical disc that required immediate surgery. Employee and his wife testified that they provided oral notice of a work injury to officials both before and after the surgery. The neurosurgeon who treated Employee could not state with medical certainty that the injury was work-related. An independent examiner testified that Employee has sustained an acute injury at work. In June 2003, Employee’s attorney sent a letter to Employer on June 6, 2013, asserting that Employee had sustained a compensable injury. Employer asserted that this was its first notice that Employee had allegedly sustained a work-related injury. The trial court held that Employee did not give timely notice of his injury and dismissed the claim. It made an alternative ruling that Employee had sustained a compensable injury and he was totally and permanently disabled. Employee has appealed, contending that the trial court’s finding regarding notice was contrary to the evidence. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Madison County Workers Compensation Panel 12/12/17
Melissa Duck v. Cox Oil Company, ET AL.
W2016-02261-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge Allen Phillips

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

Workers Compensation Panel 11/21/17
Douglas E. Shuler v. Eastman Chemical Company et al.
E2016-02292-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The plaintiff, Douglas E. Shuler, filed this action seeking workers’ compensation benefits in the Circuit Court for Sullivan County against his former employer, Eastman Chemical Company (“Eastman”), and the Second Injury Fund, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“Second Injury Fund”). Mr. Shuler alleged that he had developed cancer from exposure to harmful substances in Eastman’s workplace. Eastman and the Second Injury Fund each filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Shuler’s claim, asserting that the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims had original and exclusive jurisdiction over the subject matter of the claim. The trial court granted the motions and dismissed Mr. Shuler’s claim. Mr. Shuler timely appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. Following our thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We further determine that any facial constitutional challenges to Tennessee Code Annotated §§ 50-6-217, -237, and -238 have been waived.

Sullivan County Workers Compensation Panel 11/17/17
Sheila Holbert v. JBM Incoporated et al.
E2017-00324-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Don R. Ash
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Michael W. Moyers

Sheila Holbert filed this action seeking workers’ compensation benefits for the death of her husband, Dennis Holbert (“Decedent”).  Ms. Holbert alleged Decedent died as a result of an inhalational exposure to dust in the course of his job for JBM, Incorporated (“Employer”).  After hearing the evidence, the trial court ruled Ms. Holbert had sustained her burden of proof as to causation.  It awarded death benefits and ordered Employer to pay Decedent’s medical expenses into the registry of the court.  It further ruled medical expenses were governed by the Tennessee workers’ compensation schedule.  Employer appeals, claiming the trial court erred in finding work-related causation and in ordering medical expenses to be paid into the treasury of the court.  Ms. Holbert challenges application of the Tennessee medical payment schedule.  The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51.  We affirm the judgment in part, reverse in part, vacate in part, and remand the case to the trial court.

Knox County Workers Compensation Panel 11/01/17
Thomas Lee v. Federal Express Corporation
W2016-02126-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge James F. Russell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jim Umsted

Thomas Lee (“Employee”) worked for Federal Express Corporation (“Employer”). He worked in the Audio-Visual department, located in Collierville, Tennessee. He filed this claim, alleging that he sustained a compensable injury to his left shoulder on July 24, 2014. Employer denied the claim, based on conflicting descriptions of the incident to various medical personnel. A Compensation Hearing was held on August 15, 2016. The trial court found Employee had failed to sustain his burden of proof and dismissed the claim. Employee appealed to the Supreme Court pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-239(c)(7). The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Workers Compensation Panel 10/30/17
Jonathan Engler v. Able Moving Company, ET AL.
W2016-02125-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Rhynette N. Hurd
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jim Umsted

Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. See Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 51. Employee injured his back at work and subsequently developed a serious infection that required hospitalization and treatment. He filed a petition seeking to recover temporary total disability benefits and his medical expenses. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims determined Employee “failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he sustained a compensable injury primarily arising out of and in the course and scope of his employment.” After reviewing the record and applicable authority, we affirm the judgment.

Workers Compensation Panel 10/30/17
Troy S. Alexander v. NGMCO, LLC A/K/A General Motors, LLC
M2016-01480-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Holly Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

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

Maury County Workers Compensation Panel 10/26/17
James Estel Jeffers v. Armstrong Wood Products et al.
E2017-00499-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. McAfee

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

Scott County Workers Compensation Panel 10/24/17
United Parcel Service, Inc. et al. v. Robert Charles Millican, Jr.
E2016-02424-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sharon G. Lee
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Marie Williams

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

Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 10/24/17
Angela Evans v. Alliance Healthcare Services
W2016-00653-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Roger Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge James R. Newsom

Angela Evans (“Employee”) was employed by Alliance Healthcare Services (“Employer”) as a bus driver. On December 16, 2009, she witnessed the shooting of a coworker by a patient. She received mental health care through workers’ compensation. She did not return to work for Employer or any other entity. After exhausting the Benefit Review process, she filed this action in the Chancery Court for Shelby County, alleging that she was permanently and totally disabled by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) caused by witnessing the shooting. Employer acknowledged the incident but asserted that Employee’s continuing mental health problems were caused by other events and stressors. Employer further asserted that Employee was not permanently and totally disabled. The trial court held that Employee was permanently and totally disabled and that the December 16, 2009 incident was the cause of her disability. Benefits were awarded accordingly. Employer has timely appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel (“Panel”) for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 09/26/17
James Tucker v. Tree & Shrub Trucking, Inc., et al.
M2016-01898-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

James Tucker was employed as a truck driver by Tree & Shrub Trucking, Inc. (“Employer”) from 2006 until 2014. In 2012, Mr. Tucker sustained a compensable lower back injury. After having surgery, he was able to return to work for Employer. His claim for permanent partial disability benefits was settled, based on one and one-half times the anatomical impairment. Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-241(d)(1)(A) (applicable to injuries occurring prior to July 1, 2014). In January 2014, Mr. Tucker had a dramatic increase in his symptoms while bending over to fuel his truck. A claim for a new injury was filed after he was examined by his treating physician. Employer’s workers’ compensation insurer had changed between the two incidents. Each insurer contended that the other was liable for Mr. Tucker’s claim. Mr. Tucker was not able to return to work for Employer. Ultimately, Mr. Tucker settled his claim with the second insurer (“Praetorian”). He pursued a claim for reconsideration of the previous settlement against Employer and the first insurer (“Berkley Risk”). The trial court found that Mr. Tucker was entitled to reconsideration and awarded additional benefits of four times the anatomical impairment. Employer has appealed. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Coffee County Workers Compensation Panel 08/29/17
James Ellis Phillips v. The Pictsweet Company
W2016-01704-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Acree, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge George R. Ellis

James Phillips (“Employee”) worked for The Pictsweet Company (Employer”) as a truck driver and mechanic. He alleged that he sustained a compensable back injury on December 2, 2013. Employer eventually denied the claim primarily because the treating physician’s opinion was that Employee’s symptoms were caused by preexisting degenerative changes and were not related to his work. Although Employee received additional medical treatment through Tenncare, his condition did not improve. An IME physician opined that Employee’s condition was work-related and that he retained permanent impairment. The trial court found that Employee had sustained a compensable injury and awarded permanent partial disability benefits of 72% to the body as a whole. Employer has appealed that decision. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm in part, modify in part, and reverse in part.

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

After Employee suffered a lower back injury in the course and scope of his employment, the parties reached a settlement as to his permanent partial disability benefits. Employee later filed a petition for modification of the award, and the trial court found that Employee is permanently and totally disabled. Employer appeals, contending the trial court erred in finding Employee permanently and totally disabled and in finding Employer liable for ninety percent of the award. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Crockett County Workers Compensation Panel 08/28/17
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