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.


Market Street Solutions Makes Inc. 5000 List Of Fastest Growing Companies

Inc. magazine ranked Chattanooga based Market Street Solutions, a business analytics and big data consulting firm, number 1,936 (increasing from number 3,511 in 2013) on its 33rd annual Inc. 500|5000 list, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies.   This is the sixth time in the last seven years that Market Street has been recognized on this ... (click for more)

Bill Hewgley: Ethics, A Code Of Morality

When I was in my early 20’s, an older guy asked me if I knew the definition of “business ethics,” then quickly explained: “it was what the rich old guys rolled down the mountain at us poor scrambling guys trying to climb up.”  It is easy to become philanthropic and a high-minded civic statesman, once you secure your wealth. Rest assured, many of the legendary tycoons whose ... (click for more)

School Board Unanimously Makes Cuts To Teacher Insurance; Spouses Can Only Stay On If They Have No Other Insurance

The Hamilton County School Board on Thursday night voted to Increase the premium for spouses by $100 - a move officials said would save the schools from $2,040,000 to $3,040,000. Spouses will not continue to be covered if they have insurance available to them on their jobs. School officials said the 1,700 spouses on county school insurance last year had $10 million in claims. ... (click for more)

City Audit Hits Travel Abuses By Top Chattanooga Library Personnel; Report Forwarded To State On Possible Fraud

A report by Internal City Auditor Stan Sewell found travel abuses by top personnel of the Chattanooga Library. The auditor said he found possible instances of fraud and forwarded information to state officials in regard to "reported potential fraudulent activity" by Margaret Backus, Systems Administrator and Nathaniel Hill, Assistant Library Director. The report says, ... (click for more)

Thanks For Making The Southern Brewers Festival A Success

Now that the dust has settled I'd like to thank Chattanooga for supporting the Southern Brewers Festival and making it yet another very successful event.    For those who do not know - the SBF benefits the Chattanooga chapter of Kids on the Block and the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.  As a partner helping the SBF with volunteers, sponsorships and the overall production ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Al Sharpton’s Wise Remarks

I’ll admit I paid little more than scant attention to the Monday funeral of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot and killed by police bullets in Ferguson, Mo., after he allegedly was involved in strong-armed robbery. There are too many tawdry details and, in my way of thinking, there is nothing under God’s sun, absolutely nothing, that gives others the right to riot, burn ... (click for more)