FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Law Firm, PLLC, by: Stephen C. Parker, Jr., for appellant.
Ledbetter, Cogbill, Arnold & Harrison, LLP, by: James A.
Arnold II and Joseph Karl Luebke, for appellee.
D. VAUGHT, Judge.
Kelly Lovejoy appeals the opinion of the Arkansas
Workers' Compensation Commission (the Commission) denying
his request for additional medical benefits, temporary
total-disability benefits, permanent partial-disability
benefits, rehabilitation benefits, and attorney's fees.
We affirm the Commission's decision.
October 23, 2013, Mitchell Lovejoy suffered an admittedly
compensable shoulder injury while working for appellee,
Ken's Signs. Following surgery to repair his shoulder,
Ken's Signs gave Lovejoy time off work and then placed
him on light duty. After several weeks of physical therapy,
Lovejoy reported to his doctor, Dr. John Marcus Heim, that he
had no inflammation or pain and had a full range of motion in
his shoulder. Dr. Heim released Lovejoy's work
restrictions and found him to be at maximum medical
improvement but prescribed two additional weeks of physical
therapy for Lovejoy to work on strengthening exercises.
voluntarily terminated his employment with Ken's Signs
and took a higher-paying job with Vision Cabling Service
performing maintenance work on backhoes and other machines.
After approximately eight months, he was terminated for
reasons unrelated to his shoulder injury and collected
April of 2014, Lovejoy returned to Dr. Heim and complained of
increased pain in his shoulder. Dr. Heim recommended that he
resume performing shoulder-strengthening exercises. Lovejoy
filed for a change of physician, which was granted. Lovejoy
then saw Dr. Christopher Arnold, to whom he reported shoulder
pain and limited range of motion since his surgery. Dr.
Arnold scheduled an MRI to be performed on Lovejoy's
shoulder. It is undisputed that, on the evening of February
14, 2015, Lovejoy fell down the stairs in his home, causing
him to seek emergency medical treatment. Medical records
revealed that, while Lovejoy reported shoulder pain and
stiffness during the emergency-room visit, he did not report
that he had fallen at home. On February 23, 2015, Lovejoy had
the previously scheduled MRI, which showed
"postoperative changes of prior superior labral repair
with small area of residual laterally directed signal
alteration of superior labrum posterior to the bicep
anchor." The radiologist noted that the findings
"could represent expected postoperative signal
alterations" but further noted that "a small
residual tear cannot be entirely excluded." Dr. Arnold
then diagnosed Lovejoy with a failed SLAP lesion repair and
biceps tendonitis and recommended surgery. Again, medical
records revealed that Lovejoy did not report to Dr. Arnold
that he had fallen down the stairs at home.
hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), Lovejoy
argued that he was entitled to (1) additional medical
treatment in the form of surgery, (2) temporary
total-disability benefits, (3) permanent partial-disability
benefits, (4) rehabilitation benefits, and (5) an
attorney's fee. The ALJ found that Lovejoy had failed to
prove his entitlement to any of the requested benefits. On
appeal, the Commission adopted and affirmed the ALJ's
decision. This timely appeal followed.
appeals from the Arkansas Workers' Compensation
Commission, we review the evidence and all reasonable
inferences deducible therefrom in the light most favorable to
the Commission's findings, and we must affirm if those
findings are supported by substantial evidence. Mullin v.
Duckwall Alco, 2016 Ark.App. 122, 484 S.W.3d 283. The
issue on appeal is not whether the appellate court would have
reached a different result or whether the evidence could
support a contrary finding; if reasonable minds could reach
the Commission's conclusion, we must affirm. Id.
Code Annotated section 11-9-508(a) (Repl. 2013) requires that
an employer "promptly provide for an injured employee
such medical . . . services . . . as may be reasonably
necessary in connection with the injury received by the
employee." However, the statute specifically states that
"benefits shall not be payable for a condition which
results from a non-work-related independent intervening cause
following a compensable injury which causes or prolongs
disability or a need for treatment." Ark. Code Ann.
§ 11-9-102(4) (F) (iii). The "independent
intervening cause does not require negligence or recklessness
on the part of the claimant." Id.
Commission is not required to believe the testimony of the
claimant or any other witness but may accept as fact only
those portions of the testimony that it deems credible.
Long v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 98 Ark.App. 70,
79-80, 250 S.W.3d 263, 271-72 (2007). The Commission also has
the authority to accept or reject medical opinions, and its
resolution of the medical evidence has the force and effect
of a jury verdict. Cossey v. Gary A. Thomas Racing
Stable, 2009 Ark.App. 666, at 7-8, 344 S.W.3d 684, 688.
present case, we are satisfied that the Commission's
denial of additional medical treatment was supported by
substantial evidence. First, the Commission relied on Dr.
Heim's medical records, which showed that Lovejoy had
reported no pain, no inflammation, and a full range of motion
following surgery. Dr. Heim's medical records noted that
"his outcome is excellent enough that he does not
qualify for permanent partial impairment." The
Commission noted that, although Lovejoy later complained of
shoulder pain, there was not substantial evidence linking it
to his compensable injury, given that he had previously fully
recovered from his shoulder injury after undergoing surgery
but had subsequently fallen down the stairs in his home. The
fall caused him to seek emergency medical treatment, but the
Commission noted that Lovejoy never mentioned to the
emergency-room doctors that his pain may have been caused by
the fall in his home. He only mentioned the work-related
injury he had suffered approximately fifteen months prior.
Lovejoy also did not report the fall to Dr. Arnold at his
next visit, although he did report that shoulder pain had
caused him to seek emergency medical treatment. Dr.
Arnold's notes state that Lovejoy "woke up with
extreme pain and stiffness" on February 14, 2015, and
was seen at the ER.
Commission found Dr. Heim's opinion credible and noted
that Dr. Arnold's opinion was based in large part on
incomplete facts provided to him by Lovejoy. It also noted
that Lovejoy had been able to work as a backhoe mechanic for
several months following his surgery, that his complaints to
Dr. Arnold of increased pain did not occur until after he had
been fired from Vision Cabling Service, and that the MRI
conducted in February 2015 was performed after Lovejoy's
intervening fall down the stairs. Finally, the Commission
gave Lovejoy's subjective complaints of pain very little
weight because they were inconsistent with his demonstrated
working ability and his previous report to Dr. Heim. In sum,