By Jared S. Renfroe
Lee Walton v. Averitt Express, Inc.
Docket No. 2015-08-03-6
State File No. 60505-2015
Filed June 2, 2017
This case presents yet another appeal in which an unrepresented employee did not submit an argument on appeal or the transcript from the compensation hearing, preventing the Appeals Board from conducting a meaningful appellate review.
The employee, Lee Walton, sustained injuries to his neck and back as a result of an accident occurring in August 2014. Subsequently, after returning to work, he reported another accident on January 15, 2015, when he jumped or fell from a trailer while attempting to avoid a heavy rolling container, causing an increase in pain and other symptoms. He asserted that he underwent a cervical fusion as a result of the 2015 incident.
The 2015 injury was at issue in this case, as his employer, Averitt Express, Inc., denied the claim, asserting that he failed to come forward with medical evidence that his condition arose primarily out of his employment.
The trial court held an expedited hearing and denied benefits and after a compensation hearing, denied benefits again. Mr. Walton appealed but did not provide a transcript of the hearing, the order of the trial court, or any substantive argument on appeal. He then submitted an email asserting that the trial court erred in denying medical treatment and stating that the trial court’s “reason was unfair.”
The Appeals Board refused to make an argument for the employee, supporting his appeal, as he did not make his own substantive argument. It noted that while pro se employees are entitled to fair and equal treatment by the courts, the courts must not excuse pro se litigants from complying with the substantive and procedural rules that represented parties are expected to observe. Thus, it affirmed the order of the trial court.
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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