State Supreme Court Clarifies Procedures Governing Workers’ Compensation Settlements Approved By The Department Of Labor

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Friday that when the Tennessee Department of Labor approves a workers’ compensation settlement and accepts the statistical data form submitted along with the settlement, a court may not later find that the statistical data form is incomplete and set aside the settlement on that basis.  The Court also clarified the procedures for appealing a Department-approved settlement and for attempting to set aside a Department-approved settlement.

In Christopher Furlough v. Spherion Atlantic Workforce, LLC, Mr. Furlough injured his back at work on December 4, 2005.  On June 21, 2006, the Department approved a settlement awarding Mr. Furlough a lump sum payment of $11,500, corresponding to a 12.4% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole, and future medical benefits.  Almost two years later, on April 18, 2008, Mr. Furlough filed a petition to set aside the settlement.  The trial court granted the petition, relying on Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02(5) and its inherent authority.  The Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel affirmed, but on different grounds.  Among other things, the Panel found that the statistical data form submitted along with the settlement was not “fully completed,” and this incomplete form prevented the settlement from becoming final and effective.

In its opinion, the Supreme Court disagreed with the Panel and held that when the Department accepts a statistical data form, courts must defer to the Department’s determination that the form satisfies the statutory requirement of “fully completed.”  The Court also disagreed with the trial court’s ruling.  The Court acknowledged that Mr. Furlough could have sought relief from the Department-approved settlement either by appealing under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act or by petitioning to set aside the settlement under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02.  Mr. Furlough did not timely pursue an appeal, and the Court concluded that the trial court erred in granting Mr. Furlough’s petition to set aside the settlement based on Rule 60.02.  The Court therefore reversed the judgments of the Panel and the trial court and dismissed Mr. Furlough’s petition.

To read the Christopher Furlough v. Spherion Atlantic Workforce, LLC opinion, authored by Justice Cornelia A. Clark, visit the Opinions sections of TNCourts.gov.

 


Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways To Spot Suspicious Calls

The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert today providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.   These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They ... (click for more)

CBL & Associates Properties To Pay Common And Preferred Stock Dividends

CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. Thursday announced that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend for the company’s Common Stock of $0.245 per share for the quarter ending Sept. 30. The dividend is payable on Oct. 15 to shareholders of record as of Sept. 30. The Board also declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.4609375 per depositary share for the ... (click for more)

Bradley, 24, Charged In Death Of Boy, 3; Child Had Numerous Injuries After Left With Boyfriend; Mother Was In Workhouse

Justin Dale Bradley has been charged with criminal homicide in the death of a three-year-old child, who was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday and later died. Police said Dakota James Arndt had numerous injuries over his body. Authorities said Bradley, 24, is the boyfriend of the child's mother, Brianna Kwekel, who was in the Workhouse at the time. Ms. Kwekel was serving 48 ... (click for more)

Helen Burns Sharp Asks Recovery Of Legal Fees In Successful Black Creek TIF Lawsuit

Helen Burns Sharp, citizen activist who sued to try to stop a $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and won, is seeking to have her legal expenses paid by the city and the developers. Ms. Sharp said in a court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka are $74,427 thus far. Chancellor Frank Brown ruled in favor of Ms. Sharp, saying the Sunshine ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)