By Courtney S. Paterson
Patrice Berdnik v. Fairfield Glade Community Club, et al.
Docket No. 2016-04-0328
State File No. 78710-2016
Filed May 18, 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, Patrice Berdnik, alleged injuries to her back bending to reach into the ice machine on September 4, 2016. She worked the next two days, and when her supervisor contacted her on September 8, 2016, to fill in, she told her supervisor she was unable to work because she hurt her back getting ice and that her sciatic and low back were bothering her.
The employer, Fairfield Glade Community Club, did not provide employees with a panel of physicians or any medical treatment. Ms. Berdnik sought treatment on her own, and an MRI revealed degenerative disc disease and evidence of prior surgery. She did not dispute she had a history of back problems. At the request of the employer, she was examined by Dr. Patrick Bolt on March 1, 2017—nearly two months after she sought an expedited hearing.
According to Dr. Bolt, X-rays and the MRI did not reveal an acute injury and opined that her complaints were likely an aggravation or exacerbation of her pre-existing condition, not the result of a new injury. Dr. Bolt agreed that the employee did not cause a greater than 50 percent aggravation of her underlying condition. Following an expedited hearing, the trial court concluded the employee had not established she would likely prevail in proving a compensable injury. Nonetheless, the trial court ordered medical benefits in the form of a panel of physicians for evaluation and, if necessary, treatment of her back condition.
The appeals board reversed the trial court’s decision to award a panel of physicians and affirmed the trial court’s decision in all other respects. The appeals board also referred the employer to the Penalty Unit of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for its failure to provide a panel of physicians.
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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