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Hopkins v. Harness Roofing, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

February 4, 2015

JOEY HOPKINS APPELLANT
v.
HARNESS ROOFING, INC., and CNA INSURANCE COMPANY APPELLEES

Page 752

APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. NO. G103688.

Frederick S. " Rick" Spencer, for appellant.

Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, by: Guy Alton Wade and Phillip M. Buck, Jr., for appellees.

KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge. GLADWIN, C.J., and VIRDEN, J., agree.

OPINION

Page 753

KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge

In this workers' compensation case, appellant Joey Hopkins appeals the Commission's findings that (1) denied his claim for additional medical treatment recommended by Dr. Christopher Arnold for an admittedly compensable September 16, 2010 right-knee injury, and (2) rejected his argument that the Commission is biased and its activities unconstitutional. The Commission affirmed and adopted the administrative law judge's decision.[1] We reverse on point one, and we affirm on point two.

We first address the contention that the Commission's decision to deny additional medical treatment is not supported by substantial evidence. Appellant, a man in his thirties, worked for Harness Roofing, Inc., for eleven years, and his last six years were served in the capacity of foreman. It was undisputed that the appellant sustained a compensable injury to his right knee in 2007 and another compensable injury to his right knee in 2008. Both injuries were generally described as medial meniscus tears with effusion as well as a chondral injury. Dr. Terry Sites, an orthopedic surgeon, performed arthroscopic knee surgeries for both injuries. The evidence indicated that the appellant fully recovered from the 2007 and 2008 injuries (sometimes referred to herein as the " 2007 injury" and the " 2008 injury," respectively.) On September 16, 2010, the appellant testified that as he was stepping to a higher elevation on the roof, he felt " a tear" and pain in his right knee (sometimes referred to herein as the " 2010 injury." ) The injury was promptly reported to his employer.

The following day, the appellant presented to Dr. Corey Jackson for right-knee pain. The medical record dated September 17 provides in pertinent part that the appellant presented with increased pain in the right knee with positive effusion and limited range of motion on flexion. The physician prescribed an anti-inflammatory and a knee brace. The appellant returned to Dr. Jackson ten days later for a followup appointment. The medical record dated September 27 provides in pertinent part that the appellant's knee was about twenty-five percent back to normal but that his knee was locking up maybe twenty times a day. The physician kept the appellant on the same treatment plan. The appellant returned to Dr. Jackson again three weeks later for a followup appointment.

Page 754

The medical record dated October 18 provides in pertinent part that the right-knee pain was about the same and that the appellant could do pretty well on flat ground but that the right knee was still locking up six or seven times a day. Dr. Jackson referred the appellant to an orthopedic surgeon.

Since the appellant was treated by Dr. Sites for both his 2007 and 2008 compensable injuries, the appellant was referred to Dr. Sites for the 2010 injury. On November 3, 2010, the appellant was seen by Dr. Sites. The medical record dated November 3, 2010, provides in pertinent part that the appellant returned to the clinic after sustaining a new work injury. Dr. Sites noted that the appellant initially felt a sudden sharp pain in his right knee and then it locked and he was unable to fully extend it; that the appellant took some time off; and that Dr. Jackson had prescribed some anti-inflammatory medication, which helped. Dr. Sites noted:

Over the last couple of years until his most recent injury his knee has felt essentially normal to him. ...He had previous significant chondral pathology and had ...

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