FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Baber and Robert S. Tschiemer, for appellant.
Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, by: Guy Alton Wade and
Phillip M. Brick, Jr., for appellees Hornbeck Agricultural
Group, LLP, and AG-Comp SIF Claims.
WAYMOND M. BROWN, Judge.
Randy Grantham appeals the decision of the Arkansas
Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) finding
that he failed to establish that he sustained a compensable
back injury while working for appellee Hornbeck Agricultural
Group, LLC (Hornbeck). On appeal, Grantham argues that the
Commission's decision was not supported by substantial
evidence. We affirm.
began working for Hornbeck in July 2007, processing soybeans.
He was promoted to a general manager in 2011 and supervised
three other employees. At the hearing before the ALJ,
Grantham testified that he injured his back on October 16,
2013, while placing an auger. He described the accident as
On that day, we had a soybean crush facility, which was not
really designed to store grain in, but Jon and them had it
sitting idle, so we had a company in and change some piping
so we could take grain out the side of the building. We had
to put an auger underneath a drop pipe that came down, and we
were placing that auger that morning, and I had the two
Mexican boys, and we put a tarpaulin under it to catch any
splash grain that came out the sides, and then they pulled it
back to where my feet were. I just was holding it in, and it
backed up, and they scooted it back a little bit more, and I
backed up a little bit more and I sat it down and when [I]
set it on the ground, something popped in my back. I do not
know. I was sort of bent over forward at the time.
. . . .
I picked up about fifty or sixty pounds when my back hurt. It
was not an extreme amount of weight. I got into a backward
position when I backed my feet up, and it was not a normal
position since my hands were extended in front of me. When
this happened, my pain was about belt high when it popped,
and I have still got the same pain that started with so I do
not know what it is, and it felt high in the back. I felt
pain go down my left leg and then it started getting more
numb. The pain went down the back of my leg, outside my calf
and into my foot. I have what they call drop foot, and my
left leg is numb, and my ankle is weak. When it occurred, I
backed up and went to the scale room. I was working with two
Mexican national workers who are Alejandro and Jose, and I
did not show them that I was hurt. I have talked with them
lately. When I got to the office, I sat in the chair in the
scale room and tried to figure out what was hurting so bad
and why, and I could not sit. I sat there for a few hours and
went home and lay down in bed, took some Tylenol and went to
stated that he received a text message later that day from
Jon Hornbeck, the manager, informing him that Jeff was about
to start hauling corn again. He testified he responded to
Jon, saying, "I will contact Tim, and I have pulled
something in my lower back. Burleson who is my local doctor
cannot get me in until tomorrow."
presented to his primary physician, Dr. Stanley Burleson, on
October 17, 2013, with complaints of significant back pain
and left-leg numbness. Dr. Burleson noted that Grantham had
acute back pain and scheduled him for an MRI. The MRI, taken
on November 27, 2013, revealed (1) multilevel disc
degeneration with annular tears through midline without disc
extrusion and (2) foraminal stenosis which appears most
significant at L4-5. It was noted that the MRI only
"partially visualized L1 vertebral body." Dr.
Burleson referred Grantham to Dr. Scott Schlesinger.
was seen by Dr. Schlesinger on December 9, 2013, and informed
Dr. Schlesinger that he had had "a mild pain in his
lower back for several years but it worsened in 11/2013 while
he was lifting a heavy object at work. He was in a car
accident in the 1970s which has caused some back pain on and
off over the years." Dr. Schlesinger reviewed the MRI of
Grantham's back and noted the following abnormalities:
(1) moderately-severe degenerative changes, L3-4, L4-5,
L5-S1; (2) mild-moderate neural foramen stenosis L4-5, L5-S1
bilaterally; (3) mild-moderate lateral recess stenosis from
the mid part of L4 to the mid part of L5 bilaterally, left
worse than right; and (4) moderately-severe lateral recess
stenosis from the mid part of L5 to the mid part of L5 on the
left. Dr. Schlesinger ordered x-rays of Grantham's back,
which revealed moderate degenerative findings throughout the
lumbar spine. Grantham was diagnosed with leg pain, low-back
pain, lumbar spine stenosis, lumbar degenerative disc
disease, and hyperreflexia. Dr. Schlesinger recommended
epidural steroid injections and physical therapy. Grantham
received the injections but subsequently complained to Dr.
Burleson that the injections provided him with no relief. A
physical-therapy note dated December 8, 2013, stated that
Grantham reported that his injury "is not workers
comp." Dr. Schlesinger noted on January 17, 2014, that
Grantham had recurring back pain but that it worsened in
November 2013 and had gotten progressively worse with time.
Dr. Schlesinger opined,
Although the accident/injury did not or may or may not have
caused the actual radiological findings. I believe with a
reasonable degree of medical certainty (greater than 50%),
that based upon the patient's history the current
complaints are a result of the injury. The injury seems to
have caused the onset of symptoms even if the radiological
findings were already present based upon the sequence of
events and the historical information provided by the
subsequently underwent three back surgeries. On November 4,
2015, Dr. Burleson wrote a letter in which he opined that
Grantham was "totally disabled" and that no further
intervention was warranted due to the failed back surgeries
and chronic pain in Grantham's back. Grantham continued
to work for Hornbeck during this time and remained a salaried
employee until the company closed in February 2015, at which
time Grantham received two weeks' severance pay. He filed
a workers'-compensation claim concerning the injury on
July 13, 2015. Up until that point, he had paid for his
medical treatment with ...