ROBERT A. WOODS APPELLANT
TYSON POULTRY, INC.; TYNET CORP.; AND DEATH & PERMANENT TOTAL DISABILITY TRUST FUND APPELLEES
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Frederick S. "Rick" Spencer, for appellant.
Ledbetter, Cogbill, Arnold & Harrison, LLP, by: E. Diane
Graham and Joseph Karl Luebke, for appellee Tyson Poultry,
KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE.
Robert A. Woods appeals from an August 14, 2017 opinion by
the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission
(Commission) affirming and adopting the findings of fact and
conclusions of law made by the administrative law judge (ALJ)
in favor of appellees, Tyson Poultry, Inc. (Tyson); Tynet
Corporation; and Death & Permanent Total Disability Trust
Fund. On appeal, appellant contends that (1) substantial
evidence does not support the Commission's decision that
he was not permanently and totally disabled, and (2) the
Workers' Compensation Act violates the
separation-of-powers doctrine and his right to due process.
We disagree and affirm.
undisputed that appellant sustained a compensable
work-related injury on September 15, 2013, during his
employment at Tyson. Appellant's left hand was injured,
which subsequently necessitated amputation below his elbow.
He now uses a prosthesis. Appellant reached maximum medical
improvement on June 24, 2015, and was issued an impairment
rating. Subsequently, appellant sought permanent and
total-disability benefits, which appellees contested.
Appellant additionally sought additional medical treatment by
Dr. James Kelly, appellant's former treating physician
and surgeon, and for additional psychiatric treatment. A
hearing was held before the ALJ on these issues.
provided a lengthy "Constitutional Brief" in which
he raised challenges to the constitutionality of the
Workers' Compensation Act, to which appellees filed a
response. Appellant alleged that the Workers'
Compensation Act violates the separation-of-powers doctrine
and his right to due process. He further alleged that the
evidence submitted by him established that the executive
branch of the State of Arkansas and private interests have
exerted pressure on workers'-compensation ALJs and
commissioners, which infringes on their decision independence
and results in actual bias and the appearance of bias in the
decisions of the ALJs and commissioners. Therefore, he
requested that all present ALJs and commissioners recuse
themselves from participating in his case.
hearing before the ALJ, appellant testified that he still
experiences varying degrees of pain and that he desires to go
back for further treatment by Dr. Kelly for help with his
prosthesis. Appellant testified that he is able to dress
himself but that his clothes must have suspenders to do so.
His son assists him in bathing. Appellant testified that
during the day, he watches television and plays on his phone.
He also drives his children to school and is able to use a
riding lawn mower. Appellant further admitted on cross-
examination that he had previously indicated that he could
perform household chores, start the laundry, and prepare easy
is right-handed, and the injury was sustained to his left
nondominant extremity. He testified at the hearing that
although his left hand was injured, he had not worked since
the injury. Appellant graduated from high school, and before
his employment with Tyson, appellant was in the Navy for nine
years, worked as a machine operator for Pace for four and a
half years, and unloaded trucks for Walmart for four and a
half years. Appellant testified that although the vocational
experts identified several jobs for him, he did not think
that he could do any job for eight hours a day, five days a
indicated that after the injury, he received psychiatric
treatment from Dr. Richard Back when he previously felt
suicidal and "useless." Dr. Back diagnosed
appellant with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Appellant testified that he is still experiencing nightmares
and desires to go back to see a psychiatrist. Brian Herring,
appellant's pastor, testified at the hearing that he also
thought appellant is depressed based on the conversations
that he had with appellant.
Kelly testified via deposition that appellant is suffering
from phantom limb pain and PTSD. Dr. Kelly agreed that it
would be reasonable for appellant to see a psychiatrist to
aid in his PTSD. Dr. Kelly also testified that he would be
willing to see appellant for another evaluation of his arm.
reviewed the medical records and vocational reports. The
record reflects that appellant met with a
vocational-rehabilitation counselor, Heather Taylor, to
complete a vocational-rehabilitation assessment. Ms. Taylor
In summary Mr. Woods will likely experience difficulty if he
is able to return to the workforce. Mr. Woods has primarily
performed unskilled labor jobs his entire career. Per Dr.
Kelly, Mr. Woods is not limited to one-armed work. Based on
his past work history, educational background, current level
of achievement, and lack of transferrable skills, he will be
limited to future unskilled/semi-skilled work but less
physical demanding because of his limitations. He is not a
candidate for formal re-training for purposes of skill
Based on the labor market research completed in his area, few
current job openings were identified that would fit within
his restrictions. Of those few, his likely earnings would be
minimum wage ($8.00/hour approximately) which is ...