J.B. HUNT TRANSPORT SERVICES INC. AND NEW HAMPSHIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANTS
GREGORY HOLLINGSWORTH, APPELLEE
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Dixon Horne, PLLC, by: Joseph H. Purvis and Monte D. Estes,
& Co., PLLC, by: Tim Cullen, for appellee.
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge
J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and New Hampshire Insurance
Company appeal the decision of the Arkansas Workers'
Compensation Commission (the Commission) finding that
appellee Gregory Hollingsworth was entitled to additional
medical treatment by Dr. Luke Knox, including a cervical
discectomy and fusion, and temporary-total-disability (TTD)
benefits from October 21, 2014, to a date yet to be
determined. On appeal, appellants argue that the
Commission's decision was not supported by substantial
evidence and that the decision should be reversed. We
disagree and affirm.
14, 2014, Hollingsworth was driving a truck for J.B. Hunt
when he was involved in a rollover accident. J.B. Hunt
accepted the claim as a compensable injury but challenged
whether he was entitled to additional medical treatment in
the form of surgery recommended by Hollingsworth's
treating neurosurgeon, Dr. Knox, and also whether
Hollingsworth was entitled to TTD benefits pending the neck
surgery and recovery.
time of the accident, Hollingsworth was fifty-four years old.
Though he had been a truck driver for thirty years, he had
worked for J.B. Hunt for only less than a year. He was hired
to drive live birds to and from plants in Northwest Arkansas
and Southwest Missouri. When Hollingsworth began employment
with J.B. Hunt in December 2013, he passed medical, lifting,
and agility tests, including lifting eighty pounds to his
nose. While on the job on July 14, 2014, the truck he was
driving rolled over as he was leaving a farm. The incident
happened after Hollingsworth had passed another J.B. Hunt
truck on the same road; the other driver was arriving at the
farm as Hollingsworth was leaving.
was immediately taken to the emergency room at Cox Hospital
in Monett, Missouri. The emergency room records reflect that
he suffered face, neck, and scalp lacerations. He also
suffered a broken nose and had bruises on his arms and knee.
His injuries required five staples behind his right ear and a
stitch under his nose. The emergency room doctor noted
possible cervical problems, but CT scans done at the hospital
reflected probable moderate degenerative changes at the
cervical level. The doctor also noted some moderate
degenerative changes at C1-2 before Hollingsworth was
discharged on July 15.
testified that he had intense pain after the accident. He
stated that he could not bend his neck to the right or left
and that bending his neck backwards caused him severe and
excruciating pain. Hollingsworth testified that he had no
neck pain or issues prior to the wreck, and that testimony
was corroborated by the fact that he had never required
medication, treatment, or any kind of x-ray or imaging study
on his neck before July 14, 2014. J.B. Hunt terminated
Hollingsworth on July 28, 2014; he has not worked since the
was seen by Dr. Rebecca Lewis, a Doctor of Osteopathic
Medicine (DO), at Quick Care Clinics in Siloam Springs,
Arkansas, on July 22, 2014. Dr. Lewis noted that
Hollingsworth's neck was tender and that his ribs hurt
but there was no fracture. She removed the staples from his
healed scalp laceration. Dr. Lewis also noted some cervical
whiplash and spasms in his neck and diagnosed him with having
contusions and bruising on his left thigh. Dr. Lewis gave
Hollingsworth a Medrol dose pack and a refill of pain
medication for the rib pain.
August 4, 2014, Hollingsworth returned to Dr. Lewis, who
noted that his rib pain was much improved and that he had
been terminated by J.B. Hunt following an investigation of
the wreck. Dr. Lewis examined Hollingsworth and noted that
Hollingsworth's reaction was "inappropriate pain
response to gentle touch of the cervical spine."
Hollingsworth told Dr. Lewis that the rotation of the neck to
the right was limited as well. All of his other injuries
appeared to have resolved. Dr. Lewis diagnosed an increase in
right-sided neck pain and right-upper-arm pain, along with
inappropriate pain response to gentle touch of the cervical
spine. She ordered an MRI to help clarify any of the
complaints and also noted that there were chronic, ongoing
degenerative changes in the neck that had been there long
before the accident.
was conducted on August 13, 2014. The results, as read by the
radiologist, reflected only chronic degenerative changes and
no acute changes. After the MRI and an examination on August
18, 2014, Dr. Lewis recommended that Hollingsworth seek the
attention of a neurosurgeon to help him gain insight into his
degenerative conditions. She opined that he could go back to
work with no restrictions and that he suffered no permanent
impairment due to the work-related injury.
October 2014, Hollingsworth saw neurosurgeon Dr. Luke Knox,
who examined Hollingsworth and reviewed the previous tests.
In his deposition, Dr. Knox testified that he agreed that the
prior x-rays, CT scan, and MRI administered to Hollingsworth
found only long-standing and chronic degenerative issues in
his cervical spine. Dr. Knox recommended a myelogram test,
which was conducted on January 16, 2015. The radiologist who
read the myelogram found the test negative for evidence of
disc protrusion or canal stenosis and found mild degenerative
disc disease at C5-6 and C6-7. Dr. Knox disagreed slightly,
finding that the myelogram was positive for showing extrinsic
compression of the nerve root.
Hunt argued that Hollingsworth suffered from a preexisting
condition, but the ALJ found, "[h]owever, the fact that
the claimant had no neck pain or issues prior to July 14,
2014 cannot be overlooked. If Dr. Lewis' records and
findings are to be believed and the claimant suffered
degenerative neck issues, it is certainly possible that the
July 14, 2014 accident may have aggravated those issues. Such
an aggravation would be compensable under the law."
full Commission affirmed and adopted the ALJ's opinion in
a 2–1 decision. J.B. Hunt filed a timely notice of
appeal from the ...