By Courtney S. Paterson

In an effort to help our clients stay informed on legal issues affecting their business, Spicer Rudstrom’s attorneys strive to make sense of the complex challenges and recent legal developments in the ever-changing world of workers’ compensation law. Our attorneys summarize the cases handed down in the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board each week, providing insight on the recent legislation as a resource to employers across industries, as well as insurance providers and carriers.

Giovanna Meier v. Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc., et al.

Docket No. 2015-02-0179
Filed July 27, 2016
State File No. 42423-2015

Posture: 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 medical benefits.

The employee alleged she suffered an injury to her back moving bags of concrete in the course and scope of her employment. She did not seek medical attention that day. The employee stated that she was on her way to the emergency room (ER) the next day when she stopped for a loaf of bread.

She testified that when she bent over to retrieve the bread, she felt intense pain. She then proceeded to the ER. The employer denied the claim as not arising out of the employment. Following an expedited hearing, the trial court determined the employee presented insufficient evidence for her to succeed at trial, on the merits she sustained an injury arising primarily out of and in the course and scope of her employment.

The Appeals Board affirmed the trial court’s decision. Testimony was presented to the trial court at the expedited hearing, and the court relied on that testimony in deciding the case. However, no record was provided to the Appeals Board.

Therefore, the Appeals Board held that they must presume the trial court’s rulings were supported by sufficient evidence. Vulcan Materials Co. v. Watson, No. M2003-00975-WC-R3-CV, 2004 Tenn. LEXIS 451, at *7 (Tenn. Workers’ Comp. Panel May 19, 2004) (“In the absence of an adequate record on appeal, this Court must presume the trial court’s rulings were supported by sufficient evidence.”); Leek v. Powell, 884 S.W.2d 118, 121 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1994) (“In the absence of a transcript or a statement of the evidence, we must conclusively presume that every fact admissible under the pleadings was found or should have been found favorably to the appellee.”).

Furthermore, there is a statutory presumption “that the findings and conclusions of the workers’ compensation judge are correct unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-239(c)(7) (2015).

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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