Supreme Court Upholds Workers Compensation Law

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

 In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of a workers’ compensation law that gives priority to the opinion of an independent medical examiner for the purpose of determining the disability rating from a work-related injury.

 

In 2008, William Mansell injured his shoulder while working for Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire.

Two doctors evaluated Mansell’s condition but reached different conclusions about the degree of permanent impairment from his injury. One found that Mansell suffered a three percent impairment; the other assigned a ten percent impairment, which, if approved by the court, would result in significantly greater benefits. Because Mansell and Bridgestone could not reach an agreement through administrative means, the case went to trial.

 

Bridgestone asked the trial court to appoint an independent medical examiner for a third opinion, relying on the law that allows for such an appointment when the employer and employee cannot agree on the degree of impairment. The trial court denied the request, holding that the law, by declaring the independent evaluation as “presumptively correct,” improperly infringed upon the power of the court to determine which of the opinions was entitled to more credibility.

 

In the meantime, Mansell agreed to be evaluated by an independent medical examiner, who found there to be a seven percent impairment. After considering the content of the report, the trial judge held that even if the law did not meet constitutional standards, the evidence that Mansell had a ten percent permanent impairment was sufficient to overcome the presumption in the law.

 

On appeal to the Supreme Court, both Bridgestone and the Tennessee Attorney General defended the constitutionality of the law. Bridgestone further contended that the trial court should have applied the seven percent rating of the independent medical examiner because Mansell had not provided the proof necessary to overcome the presumption.

 

The Supreme Court concluded that the law did not violate principles of due process and did not constitute an infringement by the legislative branch upon the exclusive powers of the judiciary. While holding that Mansell was entitled to an award of benefits, the Court held that, because he had not submitted clear and convincing evidence as required by the law to contradict the presumption of correctness given to the independent medical opinion, he was limited to a recovery based upon the seven percent disability rating.

 

To read the Mansell v. Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLCopinion, authored by Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, visit TNCourts.gov.


Andrew Puzder Says He Will Fiercely Defend American Workers As Secretary Of Labor

President-Elect Donald Trump announced  on Thursday  he intends to nominate fast-food executive Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary. On Friday, Mr. Puzder released the following statement on American workers, immigration, and his plans for the Labor Department: "My job as a business person is to maximize profits for my company, employees and shareholders. ... (click for more)

Corker, Alexander Say Water Bill Will Strengthen Tennessee Infrastructure And Commerce

Senator Lamar Alexander said on Saturday the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act will help protect business and jobs across the country by authorizing funding to build, repair and maintain the country’s water infrastructure. "Improving locks, dams and other water infrastructure projects is one of the best ways the federal government can help protect ... (click for more)

Tennessee Members Of Congress Urge President To Approve Federal Disaster Assistance For Tennessee Counties

Members of Tennessee’s Congressional delegation on Saturday urged President Obama to quickly approve Governor Haslam’s request for a major disaster declaration for the State of Tennessee to help five Tennessee counties impacted by wildfires and severe weather in November rebuild and recover. “Governor Bill Haslam has submitted a request for Public Assistance and Individual ... (click for more)

Grohn Says Integrity And Ethics Lacking In Berke Administration

Mayoral candidate Larry Grohn criticized controversies and instability coming from the mayor’s administration as a sign of unethical leadership and a lack of integrity. He said, "These scandals lay out the simple fact that it is time for new leadership which is accountable to the people." Councilman Grohn’s criticism comes after the independent auditor’s release of a memorandum ... (click for more)

New School Funding Ideas

After reading the article “County Schools Prepare To Set Priorities For Next Round Of School Building Funding,” I could not help but think about how helpful it would be to have the millions of taxpayer dollars given the owners of Walnut Common apartments to build some new schools.   In case you did not know, since 2008 our elected officials have given away millions in taxpayer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Facebook Starlet

The Pants Store, a toney women’s boutique in Birmingham’s Mountain Book community, held its annual Holiday Open House about a week or so and, as usual, the popular store was full of customers and holiday cheer. It was a festive gathering, fun for all, but as store employees cleaned up for the next day, they happened across an empty designer-shoe box and a brassiere somebody had ... (click for more)