By Courtney S. Paterson
Justin Lee v. Western Plastics, et al.
Docket No. 2016-06-0912
State File No. 70528-2015
Filed October 20, 2016
This is a case before the Appeals Board on an interlocutory appeal filed by the employer, and the dispute was whether the employee’s recurrent shoulder dislocations and need for surgery were causally related to a compensable work injury.
The employee alleged a right shoulder injury on August 31, 2015, when his right shoulder was dislocated after he struck it on a piece of machinery. The employer provided medical treatment, including surgery, with Dr. Calvin Dyer. On January 8, 2016, the employee returned to Dr. Dyer for a post-surgical follow-up, at which time the doctor returned him to work with no restrictions. The doctor also instructed the employee to return in one month, at which time he anticipated the employee would be at maximum medical improvement.
When the employee followed up on February 5, 2016, Dr. Dyer noted he had been doing well until a large dog jumped on him and hit his shoulder, causing it to relocate again. Dr. Dyer placed him as the employee at the maximum medical improvement that day with no work restrictions. On March 18, 2016, the employee returned to Dr. Dyer, complaining he had experienced a recurrent dislocation when he rolled over in bed. Dr. Dyer indicated in his report the recurrent dislocation was work-related.
Finally, on April 28, 2016, the employee related yet another right shoulder dislocation as a result of a simple swat of his arm. Dr. Dyer recommended a second surgery to address the “continued instability.” The employer denied the recommended second surgery. The trial court determined that the employee was likely to succeed at a hearing on the merits and ordered the employer to provide ongoing medical care, including the surgery recommended by the authorized treating physician, Dr. Dyer.
The appeals board affirmed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case. The board found that in Tennessee, the general rule is that a “subsequent injury, whether in the form of an aggravation of the original injury or a new and distinct injury, is compensable if it is the ‘direct and natural result’ of a compensable injury.” Anderson v. Westfield Grp., 259 S.W.3d 690, 696 (Tenn. 2008). The board held that in the present case, considering the employee’s medical records taken as a whole, the recurrent dislocations and need for surgery were causally related to the workplace injury.
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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