FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Goldberg & Dohan, by: Andy L. Caldwell, for appellant.
H. Montgomery, for appellee Public Employee Claims Division.
WAYMOND M. BROWN, JUDGE
Alice McCutchen appeals the July 14, 2017 opinion of the
Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission)
affirming the February 3, 2017 opinion of the administrative
law judge (ALJ) finding that appellant failed to prove by a
preponderance of the credible evidence that she sustained a
compensable right-knee injury on May 9, 2016. Appellant's
sole argument on appeal is that substantial evidence does not
support the Commission's finding. We affirm.
began working for Human Development Center (HDC) in 2013 as a
food-prep specialist. Her duties included cooking, cleaning,
sweeping, prepping the food, and answering the telephone. She
was working in that capacity on May 9, 2016, on the 9:00
a.m.-5:30 p.m. shift. On May 9, between 2:45 and 5:00, she
claims that she injured herself while on break. More
specifically, she contends that while she was preparing to
eat a sandwich, the stool she was attempting to sit on moved,
causing her to fall and land on top of it. After the fall,
she received a phone call requiring her to prepare a salad
and fix cheese dip for a client. She completed her duties,
including cleaning the kitchen, and left. Appellant
subsequently went to church. While standing at church talking
to someone, appellant felt a "crack" and
immediately noticed pain and swelling in her right knee. She
went to the emergency room on May 10 and reported the injury
to HDC that same day. Appellant had an MRI performed on May
19, 2016, which revealed a meniscal tear, osteoarthritis,
synovitis, and chondromalacia. She underwent surgery on July
1, 2016, and the history from that date indicated that
appellant had experienced some prior right-knee pain, but
that it got acutely worse after May 9, 2016. Appellant was
released to return to work on August 15, 2016.
hearing was held before the ALJ on November 8, 2016. The
parties stipulated that an employer-employee relationship
existed on May 9, 2016, and appellant was entitled to a
compensation rate of $238/$179 if compensability was
established. The claim was controverted in its entirety.
testified that she was unsure of the time of her injury, but
admitted that she had indicated that it was around 5:00 p.m.
She stated that she decided to take her break in the kitchen
on May 9, 2016, which required her to answer the phone. She
said that when she attempted to sit on a stool, it slipped
from under her and fell, causing her to fall on her bottom on
top of the stool. She testified that she was unsure if her
knee twisted or hit anything, but she said that her ankle
went one way and her knee went the other way. She stated that
all of her weight was on her right knee. Appellant said that
Kalani Gannaway, a co-worker, was walking by at the time and
witnessed her fall. She further testified:
He was on his way out the door. We didn't talk about it.
He saw it and asked me if I was ok. I started laughing and
said yes. I laughed because I was embarrassed because I fell
in front of one of my coworkers. Alicia was my supervisor. I
did not report it to her that day. I did not know that she
was there at the time.
stated that she went to church after work. She denied doing
anything to her knee between the time she left work and
arrived at church.
being questioned by the ALJ, appellant stated that she did
not experience any pain or symptoms after her fall until she
went to church. She said that while at church, her knee
popped, causing her pain to the extent that she could hardly
cross-examination, appellant stated that after the incident,
she got up and tried to eat her sandwich but that she
received a call to fix a salad and cheese dip for a client.
She admitted that she was able to leave work and drive to
church without experiencing any pain in her knee. She
indicated that her knee gave out, cracked, and buckled while
she was at church. Appellant testified that she is five feet
three inches and weighs between 225 and 230 pounds. On
redirect, appellant stated that the fall was the only thing
that happened on May 9 to injure her knee.
Jones, appellant's supervisor, stated that she was at
work on May 9, 2016. She said that Kalani was in the office
with her before he left that day. She testified that she
subsequently heard some laughing and waited until Kalani was
in the parking lot before she went to ask appellant about the
laughter. She stated that at that time appellant was getting
on the stool. Jones said that she could not state whether
appellant fell because appellant did not report a fall to
Jones on May 9. She testified on cross-examination that she
did not see the alleged fall and could not say whether
appellant was lying about falling. She admitted that
appellant reported the knee injury the next day.
opinion filed on February 3, 2017, the ALJ found that
appellant injured her knee at church and denied
appellant's claim for benefits. Appellant appealed to the
Commission. The Commission affirmed and adopted the ALJ's