By Courtney S. Paterson
Ellen Wiles v. Dillard’s, et al.
Docket No. 2016-05-0933
State File No. 75113-2016
Filed March 14, 2017
This is a case before the Appeals Board on an interlocutory appeal filed by the employee, and the dispute was whether the employer should be required to provide the employee medical and temporary disability benefits.
The employee, Ms. Wiles, alleged she developed carpal tunnel syndrome while working as a clerk in women’s apparel for her employer, Dillard’s, et al. She reported her condition to her supervisor on August 8, 2016. Her employer provided a panel of physicians, from which she selected Dr. Frank Thomas. Ms. Wiles saw Dr. Thomas on August 22, 2016, and he noted that her symptoms started several months previously, possibly as a result of hyperextending her left arm. Addressing causation, Dr. Thomas stated that there was a greater than 51 percent likelihood the symptoms were work-related.
The employer denied the claim, asserting Ms. Wiles failed to provide timely notice and had not suffered an identifiable work injury. The employer also submitted medical records from Dr. Elizabeth Bray, Ms. Wiles’s primary care provider, that predates her alleged work-related injury. Those records document a history of multiple health conditions, one of which was left carpal tunnel syndrome.
After an expedited hearing, the trial court concluded that the employee had provided proper notice and was entitled to a panel of physicians. However, the trial court, relying on the medical records reflecting a pre-existing history of left carpal tunnel syndrome, found she had not established entitlement to temporary disability benefits or reimbursement of unauthorized medical expenses.
The appeals board affirmed the trial court’s decision.
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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