WAL-MART ASSOCIATES, INC., AND CLAIMS MANAGEMENT, INC. APPELLANTS
PATRICIA ARMSTRONG APPELLEE
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Bassett Law Firm LLP, by: Curtis L. Nebben, for appellants.
& Brooks, P.A., by: Evelyn E. Brooks, for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge.
Associates, Inc. (Wal-Mart), appeals a decision of the
Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission
("Commission"), which concluded that appellee
Patricia Armstrong's claim for additional medical
treatment for her admittedly compensable left-shoulder injury
was reasonable and necessary. We reverse, holding that
Armstrong's claim is barred by the statute of
filed a complaint with the Commission for additional benefits
in February 2014. The statute governing the time for filing
claims for additional benefits is section 11-9-702(b):
(b) Time for Filing Additional Compensation.
(1) In cases in which any compensation, including disability
or medical, has been paid on account of injury, a claim for
additional compensation shall be barred unless filed with the
commission within one (1) year from the date of the last
payment of compensation or two (2) years from the date of the
injury, whichever is greater.
Ark. Code Ann. § 11-9-702(b) (Repl. 2012).
the plain language of the statute is clear and sets forth two
definitive time periods in which a claim must be brought: one
year from the date of last payment of compensation or two
years from the date of injury, whichever is greater. Here, it
is undisputed that Armstrong's left-shoulder injury
occurred on December 24, 2006, and the last payment of
compensation for Armstrong's left-shoulder injury was in
August 2012. Therefore, her claim for additional benefits,
which was filed in February 2014, was unquestionably filed
more than one year from the date of last payment of
compensation and more than two years from the date of injury.
a strict construction of the statute, her claim should be
deemed untimely. However, our courts have previously
interpreted the statute to provide that a prior timely, but
unresolved, claim for benefits may serve to toll the
limitations period. Here, Armstrong filed a claim for
benefits in 2008, within the two-year period after her
injury. Therefore, we must determine if Armstrong's 2008
claim for benefits was unresolved and whether the statute of
limitations was tolled under our case law.
Evidence and Procedural History
Armstrong experienced a work-related injury in December 2006
while working in the Wal-Mart bakery. The injury occurred
when she was hit on her face and left shoulder by a
twenty-pound box of frozen pies dropped by a coworker who was
standing on a ladder. Armstrong contended that, as a result
of this work-related incident, she received injuries to both
her left shoulder and her neck.
regard to her shoulder, Armstrong initially received
conservative treatment, but eventually more aggressive
measures were necessary. She underwent three surgeries to her
left shoulder. Wal-Mart accepted the ...