KISWIRE PINE BLUFF, INC., AND TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY APPELLANTS
MARION SEGARS APPELLEE
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Bassett Law Firm LLP, by: Tod C. Bassett, for appellants.
Keith Wren, for appellee.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge
Segars worked for Kiswire Pine Bluff, Inc., for twenty-five
years before he filed a claim for a workplace injury. The
claims process began on 4 November 2015, when Segars was
testing a wire inside a test tube, fumbled the tube, and felt
his arm pop while trying to save the tube from falling to the
ground. He immediately reported the incident to his employer
and received an x-ray the same day, which showed no acute
injuries. A November 25 MRI showed a large rotator cuff
defect, or full-thickness tear, in the infraspinatus tendon
segment with retraction of the infraspinatus tendon. Dr.
Bowen, the surgeon who repaired Segars's right shoulder,
wrote, "I presume that since he [Segars] had no symptoms
in his shoulder prior to his [November 4] injury that this
was causative and is the reason for his current shoulder
had some prior issues with both shoulders. Dr. Bowen
successfully repaired a left rotator-cuff injury two and a
half years before the alleged workplace injury to his right
shoulder. Segars's medical records revealed that in April
2013 he had complained to Dr. Bowen about pain in his right
shoulder. Dr. Bowen noted that Segars might have a
degenerative rotator-cuff tear in the right shoulder, that he
had rejected treatment at that time, and that an MRI may be
warranted if Segars's symptoms continued. By June 2013,
Segars's right shoulder was reportedly "much better,
" and he did not seek further medical attention before
the November 4 injury. Segars testified during the
administrative hearing that his right shoulder was
asymptomatic during this time. It is undisputed that Segars
was taking prescription pain medication for unrelated chronic
back pain when the November 4 workplace injury occurred. It
is also undisputed that the only MRI of Segars's right
shoulder was performed on 25 November 2015, which happened
after the alleged workplace injury.
administrative law judge found that Segars failed to prove a
compensable right-shoulder injury. Reversing the law judge,
the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission
(Commission) found that Segars injured his right shoulder on
4 November 2015 while performing employment services. It
cited the rotator-cuff tear on the November 25 MRI as
objective evidence of the injury. After some discussion, the
Commission credited Dr. Bowen's statement that the
work-related incident caused the shoulder injury. It also
awarded him temporary total-disability (TTD) benefits from 3
January 2016 to 20 September 2016. Kiswire, Pine Bluff Inc.,
and its insurance carrier Travelers Indemnity Co.
(collectively Kiswire), challenge the Commission's
decision. They argue that the Commission erred as a matter of
law when it awarded medical benefits and TTD benefits.
Kiswire also argues that the Commission's decision to
award benefits is not supported by substantial evidence.
Medical Benefits Award
Commission determines credibility, weighs the evidence, and
resolves conflicts in medical testimony and evidence.
Godwin v. Garland Cty. Landfill, 2016 Ark.App. 498,
at 4, 504 S.W.3d 660, 662. We review the Commission's
decision in the light most favorable to its findings and
affirm when the decision is supported by substantial
evidence. Parker v. Atl. Research Corp., 87 Ark.App.
145, 189 S.W.3d 449 (2004). Substantial evidence is that
which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Id. The issue is not whether the
appellate court might have reached a different result from
the Commission, but whether reasonable minds could reach the
result found by the Commission: if so, we must affirm.
Parker v. Comcast Cable Corp., 100 Ark.App. 400, 269
S.W.3d 391 (2007).
compensable injury must be established by medical evidence
supported by objective findings. Ark. Code Ann. §
11-9-102(4)(D) (Repl. 2017). "Objective findings"
cannot come under the voluntary control of the patient. Ark.
Code Ann. § 11-9-102(16). There is no requirement that
medical testimony be based solely or expressly on objective
findings, only that the record contain supporting objective
findings. Singleton v. City of Pine Bluff, 97
Ark.App. 59, 60, 244 S.W.3d 709, 711 (2006).
prove a specific-incident injury, the claimant must establish
that the injury was one "arising out of and in the
course of employment." Ark. Code Ann. §
11-9-102(4)(A)(ii) (Repl. 2017). In Freeman v. Con-Agra
Frozen Foods, our supreme court explained the causation
requirement this way:
This court has never required that a doctor be absolute in an
opinion or that the magic words "within a reasonable
degree of medical certainty" even be used by the doctor.
Rather, this court has simply held that the medical opinion
be more than speculation. For example, in Howell v.
Scroll Technologies, 343 Ark. 297, 35 S.W.3d 800 (2001),
the opining doctor stated that his patient's exposure at
work to a coolant mist was at least fifty-one percent the
cause of her respiratory problems. We held that that opinion
fell within the standard of a reasonable degree of medical
certainty. Accordingly, if the doctor renders an opinion
about causation with language that goes beyond possibilities
and establishes that work was the reasonable cause of the
injury, this should pass muster.
Freeman v. Con-Agra Frozen Foods, 344 Ark. 296, 303,
40 S.W.3d 760, 765 (2001).
employer takes an employee as it finds him, and employment
circumstances that aggravate preexisting conditions are
compensable. Heritage Baptist Temple v. Robison, 82
Ark.App. 460, 120 S.W.3d 150 (2003). When a workplace injury
aggravates a preexisting condition, then the aggravating
injury is compensable. Oliver v. Guardsmark, Inc.,
68 Ark.App. 24, 3 S.W.3d 336 (1999). Of course, because an
aggravation is itself a new injury with an independent cause,
the alleged aggravating ...