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Leming v. La-Z-Boy, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

May 20, 2015

LARRY EVERETT LEMING, APPELLANT
v.
LA-Z-BOY, INC., and SEDGWICK CMS, APPELLEES

Editorial Note:

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the printed official reporter.

APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. NOS. G400539 and G400540.

Odom Law Firm, P.A., by: Conrad T. Odom, for appellant.

Bassett Law Firm LLP, by: Curtis L. Nebben, for appellee.

OPINION

Page 720

CLIFF HOOFMAN, Judge

Appellant Larry Everett Leming appeals from the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission's (Commission) decision, affirming and adopting the opinion of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) finding that Leming failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he suffered

Page 721

a compensable injury to his lower back. On appeal, Leming argues that (1) the opinion of the ALJ does not make specific findings of fact to support the decision and remand is appropriate; (2) the Commission's decision that he failed to prove that he sustained a compensable injury to his lower back on July 8, 2013, is not supported by substantial evidence; and (3) the Commission's decision that he failed to prove that he sustained a compensable injury to his lower back on July 15, 2013, is not supported by substantial evidence. We affirm.

Leming, who was thirty-six years old at the time of his injury, was employed by appellee La-Z-Boy, Inc. (La-Z-Boy) as a material handler. Leming stated that on July 8, 2013, he was stacking wood on a pallet at work when he " felt like something pulled in his back." He continued to work his full shift, indicating that the pain was annoying but that it did not prevent him from performing his work duties. Leming testified that he did not report the injury, as required under La-Z-Boy's policies, because he believed the pain was only temporary. When he woke the next morning, however, Leming stated that his back was very stiff, so he sought treatment with Dr. Jeffery Jenkins at the emergency room. An x-ray was taken of his lumbar spine, but no abnormalities were revealed.

Leming testified that he also sought treatment on July 9, 2013, at Northeastern Oklahoma Community Health Center (NeoHealth), which he considered to be his primary-care facility, and he was instructed not to return to work until July 15, 2013. Leming stated that his girlfriend, who also worked at La-Z-Boy, gave the doctor's note to his employer. He remained off work as instructed and did not fill out an injury report or otherwise notify La-Z-Boy about the July 8, 2013 injury.

Leming stated that his pain completely subsided and that he returned to work on July 15, 2013. Later that morning, he was picking up a 30- to 40-pound box of springs when he felt something " pop" in his back, forcing him to drop the box. He indicated that this injury was much different than the one he had suffered the week before and that he could barely move. Leming stated that this injury was in his lower back and that he was not sure if it was in the exact same spot as his prior injury. He testified that he immediately went to notify his supervisor, Neil Erter, who was in a meeting at the time. After Erter was notified about the injury, Leming stated that Erter and the employer's safety coordinator, Michael Frawley, met him in the safety office, where Frawley rubbed cream on his back and placed a rubber glove filled with warm water on it. Leming indicated that they did not send him to the doctor and that an incident report was not filed, even though he told Erter and Frawley that the injury happened at work. Leming did, however, fill out Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) paperwork at that time.

Later that day, Leming sought treatment on his own with Dr. Jenkins, who prescribed medication. Dr. Jenkins's report states that Leming " re-hurt" his back by picking up a box of springs and that he wanted his FMLA and short-term disability paperwork to be filled out. After a follow-up visit on July 22, 2013, Dr. Jenkins recommended physical therapy and noted that an MRI and surgical intervention might be necessary. Dr. Jenkins further noted that he had spoken extensively with Leming regarding whether ...


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