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Thomas v. Superior Indus.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

May 20, 2015

SHERWIN THOMAS, APPELLANT
v.
SUPERIOR INDUSTRIES, APPELLEE

Editorial Note:

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

APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. NO. G305721.

Tolley & Brooks, P.A., by: Evelyn E. Brooks, for appellant.

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

OPINION

Page 749

KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge

Appellant Sherwin Thomas was working for appellee Superior Industries on June 11, 2013, when he sustained an admittedly compensable injury when a fifty-pound car rim fell on his left foot. Superior Industries paid medical benefits associated with the accident.

A month later, on July 11, 2013, Mr. Thomas was diagnosed with bilateral peripheral artery disease (PAD). Thereafter, Mr. Thomas filed a claim for additional medical treatment, alleging that treatment for his PAD in his left foot was causally related to the compensable injury. In particular, Mr. Thomas claimed that the work accident aggravated a preexisting condition.[1] Superior Industries controverted the additional medical benefits.

After a hearing, the Workers' Compensation Commission denied Mr. Thomas's claim for additional medical treatment, finding that Mr. Thomas failed to prove a causal connection between the compensable injury and his PAD. Mr. Thomas now appeals, arguing that the Commission's decision is not supported by substantial evidence. We affirm.

The law requires an employer to provide medical services that are reasonably necessary in connection with the compensable injury received by an employee. Ark. Code Ann. § 11-9-508(a) (Repl. 2012). We have held that an employer takes an employee as it finds him, and that employment circumstances that aggravate preexisting conditions are compensable. Leach v. Cooper Tire and Rubber Co., 2011 Ark.App. 571. In Pulaski County Special School District v. Tenner, 2013 Ark.App. 569, we stated that a preexisting medical condition does not defeat a claim if the compensable injury aggravated, accelerated, or combined with the preexisting condition to produce the disability for which workers' compensation benefits are sought. When the primary injury arises out of and in the course of employment, the employer is responsible for any natural consequence that flows from that injury. Jeter v. B.R. McGinty Mech., 62 Ark.App. 53, 968 S.W.2d 645 (1998). The basic test is whether a causal connection exists between the two episodes. Id.

The claimant has the burden of proving the compensability of his claim by a preponderance of the evidence. Williams v. Baldor Elec. Co., 2014 Ark.App. 62. On appeal, we review the evidence in the light most favorable

Page 750

to the Commission's findings and affirm if those findings are supported by substantial evidence. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Brown, 82 Ark.App. 600, 120 S.W.3d 153 (2003). Substantial evidence is relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Id. The Commission has the duty to make credibility determinations, to weigh the evidence, and to resolve conflicts in the medical testimony. Martin Charcoal, Inc. v. Britt, 102 Ark.App. 252, 284 S.W.3d 91 (2008). When the Commission denies benefits because the claimant failed to meet his burden of proof, the substantial-evidence standard of review requires that ...


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