FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Michael Hamby, P.A., by: Michael Hamby, for appellant.
Ledbetter, Cogbill, Arnold & Harrison, LLP, by: R. Scott
Zuerker and Joseph Karl Luebke, for appellees.
J. GLADWIN, JUDGE.
Jason Hargis appeals the August 8, 2017 opinion of the
Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission)
that affirmed and adopted the administrative law judge's
(ALJ's) February 15, 2017 decision finding that he failed
to prove that he sustained a compensable injury to his lower
back while employed by appellee Lovett Logging. Appellant
argues that substantial evidence does not support the
Commission's findings. We affirm.
Facts and Procedural History
worked for appellee Lovett Logging, a logging company
operated by Jim Lovett and his son, Brian Lovett. His job
duties included trimming, running a chain saw, and operating
a skidder and boom. Appellant alleges that he suffered a
compensable injury to his lower back at the end of his shift
on May 9, 2016, when Brian asked him to move a boulder.
Appellant claims that as he was picking up the boulder to
pull it backwards, something in his back popped, and he could
barely remain standing. Appellant maintains that he hobbled
to a work truck and informed both Brian and coworker James
Bradley that he had injured his back.
to appellant, he left the logging woods with Brian and
Bradley together in one truck as was customary. He claims
that after they got into the truck he informed Brian that he
was hurting and felt like he needed to see a doctor.
appellant returned home after work, his girlfriend took him
to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital in Waldron. His
medical records contain a report from the emergency room
dated May 9, 2016, indicating that appellant presented with a
chief complaint of back pain and a history of the pain
beginning while appellant was moving a heavy boulder at work
that afternoon. Appellant was diagnosed with a lumbosacral
strain and was prescribed medication; he was instructed to
receive follow-up care with his primary physician; and an MRI
scan was ordered. Appellant was also given a note taking him
off work until May 16, 2016.
submits that after he was released from the emergency room he
went to appellees' home-a duplex in which Brian lived in
the downstairs portion while Jim lived in the upstairs
portion. Appellant claims that he informed both Brian and Jim
at that time that he had injured his back at work and gave
appellees the off-work note. He maintains that Jim informed
him that if he was off work for six days, he would be fired.
on that statement, appellant went to work the next day, May
10, 2016, completed his work shift, and at the end of the day
got into the truck to go home with Brian and Bradley.
Appellant admits he was upset that he had been informed he
was going to be fired if he did not show up at work and that
he told Brian this was wrong. Appellant further acknowledges
that his anger got the better of him and that he used foul
language in his discussion with Brian.
time of the alleged injury, appellant was wearing an ankle
monitor because he had been convicted of DWI with a suspended
license. He was to have the ankle monitor removed on May 11,
2016, after work so as not to interfere with his ability to
work that day. However, according to Bradley, appellant
informed Brian while they were in the truck leaving the work
site on May 10, 2016, that he would be able to work for only
a couple of hours the following day so that he could take off
to go have the bracelet removed. Brian allegedly informed
appellant that there was no need for him to come in and that
he would have someone fill in for him.
the details are disputed, a physical altercation between
appellant and Brian occurred at that time. Appellant claims
that Brian pulled the truck over and headbutted him, which
Brian denies, and the altercation involved the two men
exchanging blows with their fists. Brian alleges that
appellant began the altercation by calling him names,
accusing him of firing him, and punching him.
did not work for appellee after that date, and when he was
seen at the Mercy Hospital emergency room in Waldron on May
14, 2016, he was diagnosed with a lumbar strain and he was
again advised to ...