FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NOS.
G302528, G302529 & G407436]
Michael Hamby, P.A., by: Michael Hamby, for appellant.
Ledbetter, Cogbill, Arnold & Harrison, LLP, by: E. Diane
Graham and Joseph Karl Luebke, for appellee.
W. GRUBER, JUDGE.
workers' compensation case involves several claims filed
by Letecia Bennett, a 27-year employee of Tyson Poultry,
Inc., after she sustained a May 2012 compensable injury in
the form of bilateral carpal-tunnel syndrome. Her work
history at Tyson included some 16 years deboning chickens;
then 5 years on the "tote wash, " where she and a
coworker placed tubs in a washing machine and removed
them-alternating these tasks with one another each hour; and
finally, before she underwent a right-wrist surgery for the
compensable carpal-tunnel syndrome, a job in housekeeping. In
March 2013, she sustained a compensable injury to her right
shoulder; later the same month, she underwent left-wrist
surgery for the compensable carpal-tunnel syndrome. The wrist
surgeries, performed by Dr. Lawrence D. Dodd, were
Bennett received a change of physicians to Dr. James Kelly,
who ordered nerve- conduction studies. In September 2013, he
noted that the studies still showed bilateral carpal-tunnel
syndrome and he recommended "a redo." Dr. Kelly
planned to perform the right carpal-tunnel release first and
the left release six to eight weeks later. He did perform the
repeat right carpal-tunnel release in October 2013, but the
repeat left carpal-tunnel release was never done. In
September 2014, Ms. Bennett filed a claim for a gradual-onset
injury of April 1, 2014, in the form of a right-wrist
ganglion cyst and tendinitis due to rapid and repetitive
motion. Tyson denied the claim, and she used her own
insurance to undergo surgery and treatment by Dr. Kelly for
the cyst and tendinitis.
2015, an administrative law judge conducted a hearing on
controverted issues in this case. He found that Ms. Bennett
failed to prove (1) entitlement to additional medical
treatment for the compensable bilateral carpal-tunnel
syndrome and right-shoulder injury; (2) compensability of the
ganglion cyst and bilateral tendinitis; and (3) entitlement
to a 12-percent permanent-impairment rating that Dr. Kelly
had assigned. The Arkansas Workers' Compensation
Commission affirmed and adopted the law judge's opinion.
Ms. Bennett raises three points on appeal, challenging the
Commission's findings that she failed to meet her burden
of proof on the three issues. We reverse the denial of her
claim for additional medical treatment for the compensable
bilateral carpal-tunnel syndrome, and we remand to the
Commission on this issue. In all other aspects, we affirm.
Commission shall determine whether the party having the
burden of proof on any issue has established it by a
preponderance of evidence. Ark. Code Ann. §
11-9-705(a)(3) (Repl. 2012). We review the evidence in the
light most favorable to the Commission's findings and
will affirm if those findings are supported by substantial
evidence. Jordan v. Home Depot, Inc., 2013 Ark.App.
572, 430 S.W.3d 136. When the Commission denies benefits
because the claimant has failed to meet her burden of proof,
the substantial-evidence standard of review requires that we
affirm if the Commission's decision displays a
substantial basis for the denial of relief. Id.
order to reverse a decision of the Commission, we must be
convinced that fair-minded persons with the same facts before
them could not have arrived at the conclusion reached by the
Commission. Santillan v. Tyson Sales & Distrib.,
2011 Ark.App. 634, at 6, 386 S.W.3d 566, 570. The issue on
review is not whether the evidence would have supported a
contrary finding or whether we might have reached a different
result; we affirm if reasonable minds could reach the
Commission's conclusion. Thompson v. Mountain Home
Good Samaritan Vill., 2014 Ark.App. 493, 442 S.W.3d 873.
We defer to the Commission's findings of credibility and
the resolution of conflicting evidence. Get Rid of It
Ark. v. Graham, 2016 Ark.App. 88, at 10.
Additional Medical Treatment
first point on appeal, Ms. Bennett challenges the
Commission's finding that she did not prove entitlement
to additional medical treatment for the compensable bilateral
carpal-tunnel syndrome or compensable right-shoulder injury.
The employer shall promptly provide for an injured employee
such medical services as may be reasonably necessary in
connection with the employee's injury. Ark. Code Ann.
§ 11-9-508(a) (Repl. 2012). What constitutes reasonably
necessary treatment is a question of fact for the Commission,
which has the duty to use its expertise to determine the
soundness of medical evidence and to translate it into
findings of fact. Hamilton v. Gregory Trucking, 90
Ark.App. 248, 205 S.W.3d 181 (2005).
address the denial of Ms. Bennett's claim for additional
medical treatment for her compensable bilateral carpal-tunnel
syndrome. The Commission's opinion included the following
discussion of medical treatment she received from Dr. Kelly
after October 2013, when he performed the "redo"
release on the right wrist:
Medical records from Dr. Kelly do indicate that further
treatment on the claimant's left wrist was contemplated;
however, these reports were before the surgery on
claimant's right wrist for the tendinitis and before
claimant's complaints changed. Dr. Kelly performed
surgery for claimant's tendinitis on September 30, 2014.
By the time of claimant's first follow-up visit after
this surgery with Dr. Kelly on October 17, 2014, Dr. Kelly
noted that claimant was not complaining about pain in her
wrists, but rather about numbness down her shoulders and into
both arms. As a result, Dr. Kelly ordered an MRI scan of
the claimant's cervical spine which according to his
report of November 12, 2014, revealed nothing that would
relate to the problems of which she was complaining. Given
the MRI findings, Dr. Kelly stated: "In light of this,
there is absolutely nothing I think I can do for her any
further." Dr. Kelly then went on to state that he
was going to find that claimant had reached maximum medical
improvement and he ordered the functional capacities
evaluation upon which he subsequently based claimant's
added.) The Commission assigned great weight to Dr.
Kelly's opinion, noting his statement that there was
"nothing" else he could do for Ms. Bennett. On this
basis, the Commission denied her claim for additional medical