By Jared S. Renfroe
Samuel Stallion v. TruGreen, L.P.
Docket No. 2016-01-0292
State File No. 29403-2016
Filed February 2, 2017
In this case, the Appeals Board reversed the trial court’s holding, finding no medical evidence supporting the employee’s argument that he was entitled to additional medical benefits for his back injury.
Samuel Stallion (employee) sustained an injury to his back as a result of having to lift the rear gate of the landscaping truck provided to him by his employer when the cable-assist mechanism malfunctioned. He testified that, prior to this injury, he had not had pain in his back. He sought emergency medical treatment and then was treated by a general health clinic before being referred to an orthopedic physician. Afterward, Samuel selected Dr. Jolley from a panel of physicians, and upon his initial visit, he was diagnosed with low back pain, sprain, and mild degenerative disc disease at L3-L5.
In response to a causation letter, the employee stated that the need for medical treatment was 60 percent attributable to the work injury, and 40 percent was attributed to the degenerative condition. Subsequently, Mr. Stallion was again seen by Dr. Jolley for his second and final visit and reported that his symptoms had unchanged. His assessment was discogenic low back pain, L3-5 degenerative disc disease, and a “resolving” sprain. Dr. Jolley stated that, after looking at his films again, L3-L5 appeared degenerative enough to cause pain but that the degeneration was not work-related.
He indicated that the employee may need a fusion of L3-L5 under private insurance. Subsequently, Dr. Jolley completed a C-30A Final Medical Report and also responded to another letter from the employer, stating that the employee did not need any further medical treatment for his back sprain. The letter also stated that if any further medical treatment was needed, the treatment would be for degenerative disc disease that is not work-related.
No other medical proof was introduced at trial. The trial court held that the employee was likely to prevail at a hearing on the merits based on a finding that he sustained a compensable aggravation of his degenerative condition.
The Appeals Board reversed the holding of the trial court on the basis that the medical proof from Dr. Jolley, which is presumed correct, supported a finding that any further medical treatment needed by the employee for his back was not attributable to the work injury.
Jared S. Renfroe is an attorney for Spicer Rudstrom PLLC. He focuses his legal practice on litigation throughout Tennessee. He concentrates primarily on premises liability, business and commercial representation, employment practices litigation, professional liability, insurance defense, and workers’ compensation.
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