By: Courtney Paterson

DeWayne Burnette, Sr. v. WestRock, et al.                                     

Docket No. 2016-01-0670
Filed October 31, 2017
State File No. 87860-2016

Posture: This is a case before the Appeals Board on interlocutory appeal filed by the employer, and the dispute was whether the employee is entitled to temporary disability benefits, medical benefits, designation of employee’s treating physicians as authorized treating physicians, and whether the appeal filed by the employer is frivolous, thus entitling the employee’s attorney to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

Employee alleged suffering significant symptoms associated with overheating on July 8, 2016. A coworker reported the symptoms to the employee’s supervisor and twice during the shift the supervisor removed the employee from his work station and took him to cool off and drink water. The supervisor refused to allow the employee to leave his shift early or else risked losing his job. After his shift ended, the Employee was transported by his son to Memorial Hospital, where he was diagnosed with acute renal failure, hyperkalemia, dehydration, and rhabdomyolysis. He was treated by Drs. Joseph Watlington and Philip Bannor, among other medical professionals. Employer denied the claim due to lack of proper notice and lack of evidence of work- related injury. Following an expedited hearing, the trial court found sufficient evidence to show the employee was likely to prevail at a trial in proving a compensable work injury and ordered the Employer to provide both temporary disability and medical benefits, and it further ordered the employer to designate Drs. Joseph Watlington and Philip Bannor as authorized treating physicians. The employer has appealed, asserting the trial court erred in not enforcing the terms of an alleged agreement reached during the mediation phase of the case and in designating Drs. Watlington and Bannor as authorized treating physicians. The employee asked that the employer’s appeal be deemed frivolous. The alleged agreement was never offered into evidence and was not made an exhibit at the hearing.

The appeals board affirmed the decision of the trial court, found the appeal frivolous, and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, including assessment of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs arising from the appeal.


Larry Thomas Schmidt v. City of Dickson, et al.                             

Docket No. 2016-05-1255
Filed October 31, 2017
State File No. 75063-2014

Posture: This is a case before the Appeals Board on interlocutory appeal filed by the employer, and the dispute was whether the employee is entitled to additional medical benefits.

Employee alleged suffering injuries on September 22, 2014 while in the process of emptying waste from a truck at the city’s landfill. Employer authorized medical treatment following the incident with Dr. Tarek Elalayi for employee’s spine and Dr. Thomas Dovan for his left wrist and shoulder. Although the employer paid for most of the medical expenses, it denied payment for a medical compression device, denied payment for a second functional capacity evaluation, and refused to authorize diagnostic testing for the employee’s right upper extremity complaints. Six days before the expedited hearing the employee filed Dr. Dovan’s response to correspondence which provided Dr. Dovan’s opinion that all the disputed medical treatment was reasonable, necessary, and related to the work injury. Employer objected because it was filed less than ten days before the scheduled hearing. The trial court noted that the Employee’s attorney had submitted the letter to Dr. Dovan two months ago and had tried to get Dr. Dovan to address this earlier.

The appeals board affirmed the decision of the trial court finding the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting into evidence the medical opinions of Dr. Dovan.


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