By Jared S. Renfroe

Filed August 24, 2016

Thomas Gilbert v. United Parcel Service

Summary

In this case, the Appeals Board held that Employee’s request for temporary disability benefits was not supported by the record on appeal, focusing on the fact that Employee did not provide a transcript of the expedited hearing or a statement of the evidence, preventing a meaningful review of the trial court’s decision. Thus, the Appeals Board affirmed the trial court’s ruling and denied the Employee’s request for temporary disability benefits.

Details

This case was decided by the Appeals Board upon interlocutory appeal of the Employee, following the trial court’s denial of requested temporary disability benefits and penalties. However, Employee did not provide a transcript of the expedited hearing to the Appeals Board, significantly hampering the Appeals Board’s ability to conduct a meaningful review of the trial court’s decision.

Employee sustained an injury to his left knee at work in 2011 involving a torn meniscus which was surgically repaired. Employee settled the 2011 claim with open future medical benefits and returned to work for Employer. He received treatment following the settlement, and in 2015, he reported that his left knee was bothering him again from stepping in and out of the UPS truck at work. The authorized physician opined that Employee had an aggravation of his prior injury, resulting in Employee being bone-on-bone in his left knee but not his right knee. While Employee was walking at work in May 2015, Employee was asked by his supervisor if he was okay, and he responded that he could not go anymore. Thus, he was sent home and has never returned to work.

The trial court determined that Employee is entitled to a total knee arthroplasty as recommended by the authorized treating physician, either under the previous settlement or as a new injury, finding that Employee was likely to prevail at trial on the issue. However, because no medical evidence was presented to support Employee’s request for temporary disability benefits, the trial court denied his request for temporary disability benefits and therefore, also denied Employee’s request for penalties.

Employee appealed but did not provide a transcript of the evidentiary hearing to the Appeals Board. The Appeals Board noted that the trial court had the benefit of testimony at the expedited hearing that they did not have, and although Employee asserted that he was relying on the affidavit of Employer’s representative on appeal and that a transcript was not necessary, the Appeals Board disagreed. Recognizing that there was no medical proof presented at the expedited appeal that Employee was restricted from work such that he was “disabled from working due to a compensable injury,” Employee asserted that whether he was entitled to temporary disability benefits should be determined on the basis that Employer themselves determined that he was disabled.

The Appeals Board held that, without a transcript or statement of the evidence, the totality of the evidence introduced at trial is unknown, and they declined to speculate as to the proof presented at trial. Instead, they presumed the trial court’s ruling was supported by sufficient evidence, consistent with well-settled law. Without addressing whether medical evidence is required to establish temporary disability, the Appeals Board concluded that it cannot be determined from the record presented that Employer actually determined that Employee was disabled or deemed unable to work as Employee asserts.

 

Jared S. Renfroe is an attorney for Spicer Rudstrom PLLC. He focuses his legal practice on litigation throughout Tennessee. His concentrates primarily in premises liability, business and commercial representation, employment practices litigation, professional liability, insurance defense and workers’ compensation.

 

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