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.



CRMA Manufacturers To Hold Excellence Awards Luncheon

The Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association will host its annual Manufacturers Excellence Awards Luncheon on Wednesday this week at the Chattanooga Convention Center, Exhibit Hall C.  The luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. The event serves to recognize members of the organization who exemplify practices resulting in manufacturing excellence. The ... (click for more)

Nominations Open For 2018 International Business Awards

The International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce announces the second annual IBC International Business Awards. These awards showcase the positive contributions international businesses make to the greater Chattanooga region. Any Chattanooga area businesses engaged in international trade (either products or services, importing or exporting) are ... (click for more)

Jury Clears Juvenile Judge Philyaw Of Discrimination Charge In Dismissal Of Openly Gay Magistrate

A federal jury deliberated about an hour on Tuesday afternoon before ruling in favor of Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw, who had been sued by an openly gay magistrate that he dismissed. Judge Travis McDonough had dismissed the other two defendants - Court Administrator Sam Mairs and Hamilton County - from the case at the close of the proof. Judge Philyaw said, "I thank the ... (click for more)

Attorney Elliott Says City Council Action On Mountain Creek Zoning Case "Highly Irregular And Highly Illegal"

The City Council on Tuesday night took action on a Mountain Creek zoning case, though attorney Sam Elliott said it was "highly irregular and highly illegal." The council voted 7-2 to instruct the city attorney to file a new zoning case on a section of the former Quarry golf course against the wishes of the owner of the property and the developer who plans to buy it. Attorney ... (click for more)

Why Can't Someone Unstop The Water Buildup Problem At The I-24 Cummings Highway Exit? - And Response

Exit 174 on westbound Interstate 24 is closed again as is the westbound entrance ramp. Cummings Highway is shut as well. I inquired at TDOT on Dec. 28, 2015, why this continues to happen. The engineer’s response was that the drain from ground west of the interstate runs under private land and cover over it has caused that pipe to collapse. Obviously flow still goes through, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘We’ll Lose The Senate!’

A guy who I admire and respect wrote me yesterday. He had just read my story defending Bob Corker for honoring “The Code” due to his true friendship with Phil Bredesen. He is also no stranger to my vivid dislike of the Republican choice to replace Corker in the Senate. Marsha Blackburn is no match against Bredesen on any tier and it is clearly the Republican Party itself that has ... (click for more)