FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NOS.
Roberts Law Firm, by: Terry Don Lucy, for appellants.
& Wells, PLLC, by: Phillip Wells, for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge
a workers' compensation case. The appellants are Wall
Farms, LLC (Wall Farms), and its current insurance carrier,
Riverport Insurance Company (Riverport Insurance). The
appellees are Jeff Hulsey and Wall Farms' former
insurance carrier, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (Liberty
Mutual). Mr. Hulsey was an eight-year employee of Wall Farms.
Mr. Hulsey was involved in a job-related accident on April
23, 2014, and another job-related accident four months later
on August 14, 2014. Mr. Hulsey brought a workers'
compensation claim alleging that he sustained compensable
lower back injuries on April 23, 2014 (when Liberty Mutual
was providing coverage), and on August 14, 2014 (when
Riverport Insurance was providing coverage). Both insurance
carriers controverted the claim.
hearing, the Workers' Compensation Commission found that
Mr. Hulsey failed to prove that he sustained a compensable
injury on April 23, 2014, while Liberty Mutual was providing
coverage. However, the Commission did find that he proved a
compensable injury on August 14, 2014, while Riverport
Insurance was providing coverage. The Commission awarded Mr.
Hulsey reasonable medical treatment, as well as temporary
total disability benefits from October 6, 2014, through
November 6, 2014. The Commission found that because Riverport
Insurance was Wall Farms' insurance carrier at the time
of the August 14, 2014 compensable injury, Riverport was
responsible for providing all of the workers'
Farms and Riverport Insurance now appeal, arguing that the
Commission's findings were not supported by substantial
evidence, the Commission misapplied the law to the facts of
the case, and the Commission's findings did not support
the award. Mr. Hulsey has cross-appealed, arguing that the
Commission's denial of temporary total disability
benefits beyond November 6, 2014, was not supported by
substantial evidence. We affirm on direct appeal and we
affirm on cross-appeal.
reviewing a decision of the Workers' Compensation
Commission, we view the evidence and all reasonable
inferences deducible therefrom in the light most favorable to
the findings of the Commission. Evans v. Bemis Co.,
Inc., 2010 Ark.App. 65, 374 S.W.3d 51. This court must
affirm the decision of the Commission if it is supported by
substantial evidence. Id. Substantial evidence is
that evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion of the Commission.
Id. We reverse the Commission's decision only if
we are convinced that fair-minded persons could not have
reached the same conclusion with the same facts before them.
Id. Questions regarding the credibility of witnesses
and the weight to be given to their testimony are within the
exclusive province of the Commission. Id.
Hulsey testified that he helped maintain a cattle operation
for Wall Farms. He stated that his job was physically
demanding and that, prior to April 23, 2014, he had no
physical limitations and no lower back problems.
Hulsey testified that, while working on April 23, 2014, he
fell about four feet to the ground off a spray rig and
twisted when he landed. Mr. Hulsey worked about another hour
and then called his boss, Adam Wall, and reported that he had
hurt his back. Mr. Hulsey stated that, after that day, he
attempted to return to regular duty but missed ten days of
work, although they were not consecutive. Mr. Hulsey did not
seek medical treatment until May 19, 2014, when he visited a
chiropractor, Dr. Chris Curtis. During that visit, Mr. Hulsey
wrote on a registration-and-history form that the reason for
his visit was back pain and that his symptoms appeared
"a while ago." In answering whether his condition
was due to an accident, Mr. Hulsey checked both the
"yes" and the "no" boxes and wrote
"unsure." Mr. Hulsey also wrote on the form,
"fell at work two weeks ago." In his report, Dr.
Curtis noted "low back pain past 2 weeks with no cause.
Pt states has had back problems in the past." Dr.
Curtis's radiology report indicated that there was
"hypo" lordosis in the alignment of Mr.
Hulsey's spine, with no further comment.
Hulsey testified that he was able to function but remained
sore until his next injury on August 14, 2014. Mr. Hulsey
stated that, on August 14, 2014, he was bush hogging and ran
into a hole, which "whipped [him] to the left and jerked
[him] around." Mr. Hulsey stated that, after this
injury, the pain was much worse, radiating further up his
back, down into his hip, with excruciating pain in his right
leg. Mr. Hulsey stated that he dealt with the pain after his
first injury, but after the second injury he had to do
something. Mr. Hulsey went to the doctor on the day of the
August 14, 2014 accident. He was off work for several days
after the accident, and then returned to work for only a
couple days per week before discontinuing his work altogether
on October 6, 2014.
August 14, 2014 medical report indicated that Mr. Hulsey
reported that he had been suffering from back pain for
months. The report further stated that the symptoms began
when Mr. Hulsey fell off a wagon and had progressed with him
experiencing numbness in his left leg and arm. Cecil Massey,
an advanced practice registered nurse, examined Mr.
Hulsey's back and reported paralumbar muscular spasms.
of Mr. Hulsey's lumbar spine was performed on August 18,
2014. The MRI report noted that Mr. Hulsey had slipped and
fallen two months ago. The MRI detected disc bulges at L3-L4
and L4-L5, as well as a disc bulge and herniation at L5-S1.
the MRI, Cecil Massey, APRN, referred Mr. Hulsey to St.
Bernard's Neurosurgery Clinic, and Mr. Hulsey was seen by
Dr. John Campbell on October 6, 2014. Mr. Hulsey then
reported that he was injured on the job "late spring
went to Doc 8-14-14." In Dr. Campbell's report, he
stated that Mr. Hulsey was hurt on the job earlier that year
when he fell off a piece of equipment, and had injured
himself again a few weeks ago when he was bush hogging,
apparently hit a rut or hole, and was jerked severely. Dr.
Campbell reviewed the MRI, set up physical therapy for Mr.
Hulsey, and stated that Mr. ...