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Cossey v. Pepsi Beverage Co.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

April 22, 2015

JERRY COSSEY, APPELLANT
v.
PEPSI BEVERAGE COMPANY, APPELLEE

Page 815

APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION, NO. E313242.

Walker, Shock & Harp, PLLC, by: Eddie H. Walker, Jr., for appellant.

Worley, Wood & Parrish, P.A., by: Melissa Wood, for appellee.

KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge. KINARD and GLOVER, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 816

KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge

Appellant Jerry Cossey suffered an admittedly compensable low-back injury on August 9, 1993, while working for appellee Pepsi Beverage Company, as he was moving a case of Pepsi in a convenience-store cooler. At that time, Cossey was in his mid-thirties. He was treated conservatively for an extended period of time, and eventually he was issued an eleven-percent anatomical impairment rating, which is not at issue on appeal. At issue in the current appeal is Cossey's entitlement to additional medical treatment for pain management and to wage-loss benefits in excess of the anatomical impairment rating. The administrative law judge found that Cossey was entitled to additional medical treatment and to twelve-percent in wage-loss disability benefits. On de novo review by the Commission, it found that Cossey was not entitled to any additional medical treatment but that Cossey was entitled to twenty-five percent wage loss disability.[1]

Cossey appeals, and Pepsi cross-appeals. Cossey contends that there lacks substantial evidence to support denial of his request for additional medical treatment in the form of pain management, and that there lacks substantial evidence to support the inadequate award of wage-loss disability benefits. Pepsi cross-appeals, contending that there lacks substantial evidence to support any award of wage-loss disability benefits. We affirm on direct appeal and on cross-appeal.

In reviewing Commission decisions, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commission's decision and affirm it if it is supported by substantial evidence. Hill v. Treadaway, 2014 Ark.App. 185, 433 S.W.3d 285. Substantial evidence exists if reasonable minds could reach the Commission's conclusion, and we will not reverse unless fair-minded persons could not have reached the same conclusion when considering the same facts. Id. Questions concerning the credibility of witnesses and weight of evidence, as well as the probative value of any medical evidence, are for the Commission to decide. Id. The Commission is not required to believe the testimony of the claimant or any other witnesses but may accept and translate into findings of fact only those portions of the testimony that it deems worthy of belief. Id. When the Commission denies benefits because the claimant failed to meet his burden of proof, the substantial-evidence standard of review requires us to affirm if the Commission's

Page 817

decision displays a substantial basis for the denial of relief. Howell v. Scroll Techs., 343 Ark. 297, 35 S.W.3d 800 (2001).

The first issue on appeal concerns the denial of Cossey's request for additional medical treatment in the form of pain management. Arkansas Code Annotated section 11-9-508(a) requires employers to provide medical services that are reasonably necessary in connection with the compensable injury. A claimant bears the burden to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the treatment is reasonable and necessary and bears a causal connection to the work injury; it is a question of fact. Cole v. Commerce & Indus. Ins. Co., 2009 Ark.App. 617. A claimant may be entitled to additional treatment after the healing period has ended if it is geared toward management of the compensable injury. Santillan v. Tyson Sales & Distribution, 2011 Ark.App. 634, 386 S.W.3d 566. Here, the question is focused on whether there is a causal connection between the 1993 injury and the present need for pain management treatment. We hold that substantial evidence supports the finding that Cossey failed to prove entitlement to additional medical treatment.

Our review of the evidence shows that Cossey, now in his mid-fifties, began working for Pepsi in the late 1970s. As a route driver, he sold soft drinks, loaded a truck, and stocked shelves, which required lifting, bending, and stooping. It was undisputed that in August 1993, when Cossey was in his mid-thirties, he was stocking a convenience store cooler with cases of Pepsi when he experienced a " pop" in his back and the ...


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