NUCOR YAMATO STEEL COMPANY AND SEDGWICK CLAIMS MANAGEMENT SERVICE APPELLANTS
LAWRENCE L. KENNEDY APPELLEE
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Ryburn, for appellants.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge.
Yamato Steel Company (Nucor) appeals from an order of the
Workers' Compensation Commission that awarded additional
medical treatment to appellee Lawrence Kennedy for treatment
of his compensable left carpal tunnel syndrome, to include
carpal tunnel release surgery. On appeal, Nucor argues that
Mr. Kennedy's claim for additional medical benefits was
barred by the statute of limitations. Nucor argues in the
alternative that additional medical treatment for Mr.
Kennedy's left carpal tunnel syndrome was not reasonable
and necessary. We affirm.
appeals involving claims for workers' compensation, the
appellate court views the evidence in the light most
favorable to the Commission's decision and affirms the
decision if it is supported by substantial evidence.
Williams v. Ark. Dep't of Cmty. Corr., 2016
Ark.App. 427, 502 S.W.3d 530. Substantial evidence is
evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion. Id. The Commission 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. Id. Finally, this court will
reverse the Commission's decision only if it is convinced
that fair-minded persons with the same facts before them
could not have reached the conclusions arrived at by the
Kennedy began working for Nucor in 1992 and was assigned to
various positions. He eventually became a "coil crimper,
" which is a hand-intensive job. The parties stipulated
that Mr. Kennedy sustained compensable bilateral carpal
tunnel syndrome on August 8, 2009. Mr. Kennedy came under the
care of Dr. William Bourland, who on August 19, 2009,
reported that right-wrist release surgery would be performed
first, followed by left-wrist release surgery after Mr.
Kennedy had recovered from the first surgery. Dr. Bourland
performed right-wrist release surgery on November 17, 2009.
After that, Mr. Kennedy continued to be treated for both
right- and left-wrist carpal tunnel, but release surgery on
his left wrist was not performed.
parties had a previous dispute in this case over Mr.
Kennedy's entitlement to additional medical treatment.
After a hearing in that proceeding, the administrative law
judge issued an opinion on March 13, 2013, finding that Mr.
Kennedy was entitled to additional medical treatment for his
bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Nucor did not appeal from
to the March 2013 hearing where the additional medical
treatment was ordered, on August 5, 2013, Dr. Richard Wirges
evaluated Mr. Kennedy and gave the impression of mild right
carpal tunnel syndrome and mild to moderate left carpal
tunnel syndrome. Mr. Kennedy continued to experience problems
with his right hand, and Dr. Wirges performed a repeat right
carpal tunnel release surgery on October 16, 2013. After a
follow-up visit on October 29, 2013, Dr. Wirges reported that
once Mr. Kennedy's right hand was healed, he would
reevaluate the situation and decide whether the left hand
would benefit from surgery.
report dated November 26, 2013, Dr. Wirges noted that Mr.
Kennedy's left carpal tunnel had so far responded to
conservative treatment. Dr. Wirges further indicated that Mr.
Kennedy wanted to "get through his right hand first to
make sure it does well" before discussing further
treatment to the left hand. On June 10, 2014, Dr. Michael
Chesser evaluated Mr. Kennedy and noted continued mild to
moderate left carpal tunnel syndrome. On October 31, 2014,
Dr. Wirges performed an injection to Mr. Kennedy's left
carpal tunnel. On December 9, 2014, Dr. Wirges reported that
the left-hand injection had provided some relief to Mr.
Kennedy, but that his symptoms were beginning to return. Dr.
Wirges gave the opinion that Mr. Kennedy would benefit from a
left carpal tunnel release. The last report authored by Dr.
Wirges came on May 11, 2015, wherein Dr. Wirges gave the
This is a 54-year-old gentleman well known to us is a problem
is the right upper extremity was started after carpal tunnel
release [sic]. At that time he was also diagnosed with left
carpal tunnel syndrome, [he decided] not to undergo/proceed
with a left carpal tunnel release because his right hand was
not doing well. Ever since that we've been dealing with
the right side to try to get [it] better, but the left side
has had symptoms the whole time. He is now at the point
[where] the right side is well enough to undergo the left
carpal tunnel release. He did have a positive improvement
with the injection to the left side so we scheduled for a
left carpal tunnel release back in December. However, this
was denied. He is now back today with the same symptoms and
is still ready for left carpal tunnel release. He is still
willing and able to go through a left carpal tunnel release
surgery. He has no change in exam from back in December.
9, 2015, Mr. Kennedy filed a written claim asking for surgery
and additional pain medication for treatment of his left
carpal tunnel syndrome. Nucor contested the claim for
additional benefits, and a hearing was held on October 2,
2015. The Commission subsequently ruled that Mr. Kennedy
proved entitlement to additional treatment for his left
carpal tunnel syndrome, to include release surgery, and that
Mr. Kennedy's claim for additional treatment was not
barred by the statute of limitations.
first argument on appeal is that the Commission erred in
finding that the applicable statute of limitations did not
bar Mr. Kennedy's claim for additional benefits. Arkansas