FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Law Firm, P.A., by: William C. Frye, for appellant.
Worley, Wood & Parrish, P.A., by: Jarrod S. Parrish, for
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge
Diann Gunter appeals the Arkansas Workers' Compensation
Commission's (Commission) denial of her claim that she
sustained a compensable cervical spine injury while working
at Bill's Super Foods (Bill's). She argues that
substantial evidence does not support the Commission's
finding and that she should be entitled to additional medical
treatment, specifically in the form of surgery as prescribed
by Dr. Wayne Bruffett. For the following reasons, we affirm.
appeals the Commission's June 9, 2017 opinion and order
that affirmed the administrative law judge (ALJ)'s
decision finding that Gunter failed to prove she sustained a
work-related neck or back injury. Gunter and her supervisor,
Douglas Heise, were the only two witnesses to testify at the
hearing before the ALJ. Gunter testified that before going to
work at Bill's, she had worked as a cook in a restaurant,
was a daycare teacher, performed patient administration, and
was a dispatcher in Faulkner County.
Bill's, she initially worked at the deli, where she was
responsible for cooking, cleaning, and serving customers. She
remained in that position for a year and a half. She then
began working as a cashier where her job duties included
checking people out and getting items, such as 50-pound bags
of dog food and 5-gallon buckets of chicken, in and out of
maintains that she injured herself while picking up a
50-pound bag of dog food on January 20, 2015, and testified
at the hearing, "I was checking someone out, and they
had put that big-the bag up under the buggy on the bottom,
and I-when I pick it up, I thought that I felt a muscle pull.
It was just a sudden pull. It was like a-just-I woke up the
next morning stiff, so I figured it was a pulled
muscle." Gunter admitted that she did not say anything
to her supervisor and continued to work; she also conceded
that she had undergone disc surgery a decade before, in 2005,
that was unrelated to her work duties at Bill's.
testified that she continued to work but that her condition
worsened, so she went to see her primary-care physician, Dr.
Mark Vice, on or about February 9, 2015. Gunter had an MRI,
and Dr. Vice took her off of work and she eventually started
receiving workers'-compensation benefits. She was also
referred to Dr. Amir Qureshi, a pain-management specialist,
who started her on shots. Gunter testified that the shots
worked for about a month but that they burned her nerve
endings, so she then went to see Dr. Bruffett who recommended
Heise, Gunter's supervisor and the store manager of
Bill's, testified that Gunter never reported a specific
incident involving picking up a bag of dog food prior to
coming to him about getting an MRI in February 2015. Heise
testified that Gunter had complained about back pain from
time to time but that she had not said anything to him about
those problems being related to a specific incident at work
until she came to him about the MRI. Heise stated that Gunter
had worked for him for a couple of years and that she was a
good employee who did a good job.
medical evidence shows that Dr. Vice's February 9, 2015
report is the first medical report after her alleged injury
date. In that report under the "History of Present
Illness" section, Gunter provided information that her
problems had started one month before to her February 9
visit, and there was no mention of a specific incident
involving dog food. Dr. Vice did not report a work-related
accidental injury or otherwise attribute his diagnosis of
cervical radiculopathy to Gunter's employment at
Bill's. When Gunter had her MRI done ten days later, on
February 19, 2015, she informed Baptist Imaging that she had
been experiencing symptoms in her cervical spine for several
months. The Commission found there was no probative evidence
to demonstrate that the condition shown on the MRI was
causally related to an accidental injury that Gunter alleges
occurred on January 20, 2015.
Bruffett saw Gunter on May 6, 2015, and recommended
additional diagnostic testing in preparation for surgery. It
is within the Commission's province to weigh all of the
medical evidence and to determine what is most credible.
Minnesota Mining & Mfg. v. Baker, 337 Ark. 94,
989 S.W.2d 151 (1999). Here, the Commission found that Dr.
Bruffett's treatment recommendation was based on the
history provided by Gunter, and that history was not
supported by the record and was not credible. The Commission
"therefore placed minimal evidentiary weight on Dr.
Bruffett's findings." The Commission found that
Gunter did not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that
she sustained a compensable injury and that she did not prove
an accidental injury causing physical harm to the body. The
Commission also found that Gunter did not prove that she
sustained an injury caused by a specific incident or
identifiable by time and place of occurrence on January 20,
2015, and further found that Gunter was not a credible
witness. Accordingly, the Commission then denied and
dismissed Gunter's claim. The sole issue on appeal is
whether substantial evidence supports the Commission's
law permits the Commission to adopt the ALJ's opinion.
Stoker v. Thomas Randal Fowler, Inc., 2017 Ark.App.
594, 533 S.W.3d 596. When the Commission adopts the ALJ's
opinion, it makes the ALJ's findings and conclusions its
findings and conclusions, and for the purpose of appellate
review, we consider both the ALJ's opinion and the
Commission's majority opinion. Id.
the Commission denies benefits because a claimant has failed
to meet his or her burden of proof, the substantial-evidence
standard of review requires that we affirm if the
Commission's decision displays a substantial basis for
the denial of relief. Fulbright v. St. Bernard's Med.
Ctr., 2016 Ark.App. 417, 502 S.W.3d 540. On appeal, 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, which is
evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion. Jones v. Target Corp., 2017
Ark.App. 199, 518 S.W.3d 119. The issue on review is not
whether the evidence would have supported a contrary finding
or whether we might have reached a different result; we
affirm if reasonable minds could reach the Commission's