Jamal Darraj v. McKee Foods Corporation

Jan 23, 2017 | Featured, News, Workers' Compensation

By Courtney S. Paterson

Jamal Darraj v. McKee Foods Corporation, et al.               

Docket No. 2015-01-0339

State File No. 55851-2015

Filed January 17, 2017


This is a case before the Appeals Board on an interlocutory appeal filed by the employee, and the dispute employer must provide the employee medical benefits.

The employee alleged an injury to his hands and/or wrists arising primarily out of and in the course and scope of his employment. It is unclear the exact theory of how the injury occurred, but the employee alleged the injury occurred or became symptomatic on July 19, 2015. He was provided a panel of physicians from which he chose Dr. Marshall Jemison.

Dr. Jemison was not immediately available, so the employer authorized an initial visit with Dr. McKinley Lundy. Dr. Lundy diagnosed the employee with a bilateral wrist sprain and bilateral forearm sprain. Dr. Jemison later saw the employee, at which time he noted the bilateral wrist pain was not the result of a particular injury and diagnosed the employee with arthritis of the thumbs and wrists.

The doctor opined that he did not believe these conditions were primarily related to his work activities, as there was no injury, and the arthritis was very significant. The employer then denied the claim, asserting the employee’s conditions did not arise primarily out of his employment. The employee then sought the opinion of Dr. Joseph Burton, a forensic pathologist, who opined the employee had an injury that is easily related to events occurring in his job and workplace.

He also sought treatment from Dr. Edward Hollinger, an orthopedic surgeon, who opined the employee’s complaints were work-related. The employer then sought a records review from Dr. John Gracy, also an orthopedic surgeon, who opined that the employee’s job may have contributed to his arthritis, but it was not the primary and sole cause.

The trial court denied the employee’s request for benefits and determined the employee had not presented sufficient medical evidence to rebut the presumption of correctness accorded to Dr. Jemison’s causation opinion. The appeals board affirmed the trial court’s decision. It held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in accrediting the medical opinions and weighing the evidence when the trial court held that the employee did not overcome the presumption of correctness afforded to the authorized treating physician’s opinion.


An associate with Spicer Rudstrom since 2009, Courtney focuses her practice on automobile liability, insurance coverage litigation, insurance defense litigation, insurance subrogation, premises liability, products liability, and workers’ compensation. She is admitted to practice in all trial and appellate state courts in Tennessee, as well as the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.


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