Supreme Court Upholds Decision that Injury Not Compensable

Aug 18, 2017 | Featured, News

By Courtney S. Paterson
Joseph Kolby Willis v. All Staff, et al.                                               
Docket No. 2014-05-0005      
Filed August 3, 2017


This is a case before the Supreme Court of Tennessee Special Workers’ Compensation Panel on an appeal filed by the Employee, and the dispute was whether the Employee sustained a compensable injury.
The employee alleged suffering an injury to his left knee on July 30, 2014, when he was standing from a squatting position, twisting as he stood, to flip a switch to activate a machine. As he stood, he experienced pain in his knee and saw that his kneecap was displaced. He told his supervisor and was taken to the ER. The employee had pre-existing bilateral knee problems and had undergone surgeries in 2005 and 2006.

He had also been diagnosed with a condition that predisposed him to kneecap dislocation. The employee sought treatment with Dr. David Moore who initially believed the Employee’s injury was work-related based on his history of not having problems since the prior surgeries. Dr. Moore testified that Employee’s injury could have occurred regardless of where Employee was at the time.

The trial court determined that the Employee’s knee injury was causally related to the work incident as his work environment involved a special hazard of squatting in a confined area and that this hazard contributed more than fifty percent to causing his injury. The Appeals Board concluded that the proof preponderated against the trial court’s finding and reversed the trial court’s finding and remanded the case to the trial court for entry of an order dismissing the claim.

The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the claim. The Supreme Court held that Dr. Moore did not testify that the dislocation was primarily caused by the work task Employee was performing when it occurred. The Supreme Court went on to state that while Dr. Moore’s testimony may have been sufficient to establish causation under prior law, it is insufficient under the current statutes.
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.