ST. JEAN INDUSTRIES, INC., AND TRAVELERS CASUALTY INSURANCE CO., APPELLANTS
JERRY LYNN EZELL, APPELLEE
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Bassett Law Firm LLP, by: Tod C. Bassett, for appellants.
Willhite, PLC, by: M. Scott Willhite, for appellee.
Gladwin, C.J., and Glover, J., agree.
F. VIRDEN, JUDGE
appeal follows the February 17, 2016 decision of the
Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) affirming
the June 15, 2015 opinion of the Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) that Jerry Lynn Ezell sustained a compensable injury to
his left big toe, that Ezell imparted notice to St. Jean
Industries, Inc. (St. Jean), of his injury, and that Ezell
proved by a preponderance of the evidence that he was
entitled to temporary total-disability benefits from May 29,
2014 to September 14, 2014.
Jean raises three points on appeal: (1) that the
Commission's finding that Ezell sustained a compensable
injury and that he is entitled to medical expenses and other
benefits is not supported by substantial evidence; (2) that
the Commission's finding that the injury is compensable
is in error as a matter of law; and (3) that the
Commission's finding that Ezell gave notice of his injury
on February 14, 2014 is not supported by substantial
evidence. We find no merit in these arguments, and we affirm.
was the only person to testify at the hearing before the ALJ
on March 18, 2015. At the hearing Ezell testified that he
began working for St. Jean in 2007 as a machine operator,
manufacturing aluminum suspension parts for the automotive
industry. Before he was laid off in December 2013, he had
been a supervisor for two years. Ezell was rehired in January
2014 as a machine operator on a different machine. Since the
layoff, the solid machine parts Ezell worked with had been
replaced with hollow parts, which, unlike the prior parts
Ezell had worked with, collected coolant inside them as they
were machined. As Ezell pulled the parts off the machine, the
coolant poured onto his feet, soaking his shoes and socks.
After three weeks, on February 13, 2014, Ezell's left
foot began to hurt while he was at work. When he got home and
took off his boots, he observed a pea-sized blister on his
left big toe. Ezell testified that he had been wearing the
boots for work for about six months when the blister
appeared. Ezell testified that he was on his feet while he
worked at the machine, that he walked from the machine to the
deburring station, and that the two stations were together in
a small area.
testified that he reported the blister to the technical
assistant, Roy Lawrence, the next day. Ezell explained that
when a supervisor is not present, the technical assistant is
in charge, and he described the position as "a
supervisor that's not allowed to discipline
employees." Ezell testified that he told Lawrence that
he was diabetic and that he needed to do something about his
condition but that Lawrence "did not do anything in
response to me telling him about the blister." Ezell
testified that he reported the blister to the other two
technical assistants, Jimmy House and Anthony Lawson, within
a day or two of observing the blister. Mark Lee, Ezell's
supervisor who ranked above the technical assistants, was not
present during Ezell's shift; however, Ezell testified
that he took a picture of the affected toe and sent it to
Jimmy House. House then told Ezell that he reported the
blister to Supervisor Lee and had forwarded the picture to
called his family doctor on February 14, 2014, and made an
appointment for February 24, 2014. Ezell testified that,
until his appointment, he continued to work and that he
wrapped his toe in gauze and applied peroxide to the wound to
try to keep it dry and clean. Ezell stated that during the
appointment, Dr. Lee Vaughan took a culture to determine the
type of infection Ezell had, and he prescribed the first
round of antibiotics and a topical application. In his
progress notes, Dr. Vaughan noted "[B]lister on bottom
of 1st toe (L) foot, getting worse" and wrote that Ezell
had a diabetic foot ulcer. Dr. Vaughan also wrote that Ezell
"works in coolant water" and that the coolant
"causes boots to fall apart." Further down, Dr.
Vaughan noted "[G]et waterproof chemical resistant
boots, " and he prescribed Gentamicin ointment "for
testified that he went back to see his doctor on March 10,
2014, and Dr. Vaughan changed the antibiotic because the
original one had not been effective. The progress notes from
that appointment show that Ezell had ordered new work boots
and that he still had a "small ulcer." Ezell took a
note from Dr. Vaughan to the human-resources representative,
Aimee Branscum, and offered to show her his toe, but she
declined to see it.
testified that two weeks before his toe was amputated, he
requested that Lee move him to a different machine or a
different shift where a different machine would be available,
but Lee refused and told Ezell that other employees were
ahead of him in the same requests. Ezell testified that he
explained that his toe was not healing and was getting worse
and that he offered to show Lee a new picture, to which Lee
responded that he did not want to see either the new picture
or the first picture that had been sent to him.
testified that around May 29, 2014, he visited Dr. Vaughan
again after his toe had gotten drastically worse overnight.
Ezell explained that his wound progressed from blisters to
"double in size" and he could not get his boot on
his foot. Dr. Vaughan referred Ezell to Springhill Baptist
Hospital in North Little Rock where Ezell was admitted. Dr.
Martin Siems examined Ezell the day after he had been
admitted and scheduled surgery. Ezell testified that he