APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. NO. G303657.
Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, by: Guy Alton Wade and T.J. Fowler, for appellants.
Tolley & Brooks, P.A., by: Evelyn E. Brooks, for appellee.
CLIFF HOOFMAN, Judge. ABRAMSON and HIXSON, JJ., agree.
CLIFF HOOFMAN, Judge
Appellants Target Corporation (" Target" ) and Sedgwick Claims Management appeal from an August 26, 2014 opinion by the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission (" Commission" ) affirming and adopting the findings of fact and conclusions of law made by the Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ" ) in favor of appellee Rene Bumgarner. On appeal, appellants contend that no substantive proof exists to connect appellee's desired additional medical treatment to her May 1, 2013 work injury. We affirm.
On April 16, 2014, Bumgarner testified that she was fifty-one years old at the time of the hearing and had been working for Target since August of 2002. Prior to her May 1, 2013 injury, Bumgarner worked as the " hard lines team lead." Her job duties consisted of putting products on shelves, zoning, and lifting heavy products. Her job also included placing furniture on shelves and using ladders to get products from the warehouse. It is undisputed that appellee sustained a compensable injury on May 1, 2013. Bumgarner testified that she injured herself after she used a ladder to take a product down from the back room. She thought she was on the last step but instead was on the second to last step. When she stepped off, she testified that her left foot made contact on the ground but her " knee pushed away from [her] body laterally, snapped, and [she] fell down." She initially was sent to a walk-in clinic in Springdale, Arkansas, after which she was referred to Dr. Christopher A. Arnold in Fayetteville.
Prior to her 2013 injury, Bumgarner had been seen and treated by Dr. Arnold for preexisting problems with her left knee. She had undergone a surgical procedure by Dr. Robert Tomlinson on her left knee in August of 2009, which she admitted was not caused by any specific event. After injuring her knee again in Afghanistan during her service in the Kansas National Guard, she underwent another surgical procedure by Dr. Arnold on April 1, 2011. She testified that she continued to see Dr. Arnold until her 2013 injury and received cortisone injections for arthritic problems that she was having.
After the May 1, 2013 injury, she testified that Dr. Arnold performed another surgery in August of 2013. Afterward, she returned to light duty work, involving a " sit-down job," but her employment with Target was subsequently terminated. Bumgarner testified on redirect examination that she wanted to undergo the additional surgery recommended by Dr. Arnold.
The medical evidence corroborated Bumgarner's testimony. The January 14, 2011 MRI report of Bumgarner's left knee reflected that there was an irregularity of the cartilage in the medial compartment consistent with low-grade chondromalacia, no evidence of bone contusion or occult fracture, and a cleavage tear of the medial meniscus. However, the lateral meniscus was intact. In Dr. Arnold's May 31, 2011 notes, he states that Bumgarner may
someday be a candidate for meniscal allograft or cartilage salvaging procedure. However, he also stated that he wanted her to " get over this" before he assessed her for that. The June 21, 2013 MRI report of Bumgarner's left knee reflected that there was a high-grade partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament, likely degenerative tearing of the posterior horn and body of the medial meniscus, a Grade IV chondromalacia of the weight-bearing surface of the medial femoral condyle, and a bone marrow contusion involving the posterior aspect of the lateral tibial plateau and lateral aspect of the lateral femoral condyle. In Dr. Arnold's June 25, 2013 notes, he stated that he reviewed the MRI report and that while she had some preexisting wear in her knee, she had new findings after her 2013 injury. " I scoped her knee two years ago. At that point, the ACL was intact. At that point, her medial femoral condyle had grade 2 chondral changes. On her exam today, she has a grossly positive Lachman which is new compared to prior to the injury. She also has MRI findings consistent with a pivot shift phenomenon which is indicative of the ACL insufficiency."
On December 17, 2013, Dr. Charles Pearce opined that Bumgarner was not at maximum medical improvement and that she would benefit from another two to four months of physiotherapy. He also opined that it was premature to discuss any further treatment for the chondral lesion of her medial femoral condyle. Furthermore, he speculated that there was some abnormality at the time of her 2011 arthroscopy, but he did not have anything to confirm that. Dr. Arnold disagreed with Dr. Pearce's findings in a March 19, 2014 letter. Instead, he explained that the " full thickness chondral defect of the ...