By Courtney S. Paterson

Thomas Petty v. Convention Production Rigging, et al.                  

Docket No. 2016-06-0841

State File No. 20550-2015

Filed December 29, 2016

Posture

This is a case before the Appeals Board on interlocutory appeal filed by the employee, and the dispute was whether the employer should be required to provide the employee medical benefits.

Summary

The employee in this case alleged suffering injuries to his head and right shoulder during the scope of his employment in 2015. The employer provided medical and temporary disability benefits, including several panels of physicians. The employee was eventually seen and/or treated by more than five physicians before the employer denied additional treatment. This case law upholds the denial of continued treatment.

Facts

The employee alleged suffering injuries to his head and right shoulder when a stanchion and heavy draping fell and struck him while he was helping disassemble a stage at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center during the course and scope of his employment on March 7, 2015. The employer accepted the claim as compensable and provided medical and temporary disability benefits. The employee was initially seen at Concentra Urgent Care, where he was diagnosed with face/scalp contusions. A CT scan of his cervical spine revealed degenerative changes, and a CT scan of the head revealed no acute findings.

The employer provided a panel of neurosurgeons, from which the employee chose Dr. Jason Hubbard. Dr. Hubbard referred the employee to an orthopedic physician. The employee saw Dr. David Moore, an orthopedist selected from a panel, for his right shoulder complaints. He began physical therapy and also received a cervical epidural block. The employee was then referred to neurology and was seen by Dr. Steven Graham. The employee was also referred for a neuropsychological evaluation with Dr. James Walker. Dr. Walker opined the employee was consciously feigning the presence of difficulties and felt he was malingering. Dr. Walker went on to conclude the employee did not suffer a serious head injury on March 7, 2015 and that he was cannabis-dependent, stating the he uses marijuana daily. Dr. Walker suspected the employee’s complaints were related to his frequent and persistent intoxication, rather than the effects of any head injury. The employee eventually saw Dr. Jeffrey Hazelwood for pain management. Dr. Hazelwood observed significant abnormal pain behavior and strongly considered malingering. Eventually, the employer denied the employee’s request for further evaluation.

On the basis of these medical opinions, the trial court determined the employee had not presented sufficient medical evidence to establish he was likely to succeed at a trial on the merits in establishing a need for additional treatment.

The appeals board affirmed the trial court’s decision and held that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s denial of the requested medical benefits.

 

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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