The TJX COMPANIES, INC., d/b/a T.J. Maxx, and American Zurich Insurance Company, Appellants
Azzie LOPEZ, Employee Appellee
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Newkirk & Jones, by: Rick Behring Jr., for appellants.
GRUBER, Chief Judge
Appellants, The TJX Companies, Inc., d/b/a T.J. Maxx and
American Zurich Insurance Co., appeal a decision of the
Arkansas Workers Compensation Commission (Commission)
finding that appellee Azzie Lopez sustained a compensable
injury and awarding her medical and temporary
total-disability (TTD) benefits. In this one-brief appeal,
appellants contend that the Commissions decision is not
supported by substantial evidence. We affirm.
Lopez was sixty-eight years old at the time of the May 4,
2018 hearing before the administrative law judge. She began
working for T.J. Maxx in 2009 and was a jewelry associate at
the time of the March 24, 2017 incident at issue. Lopez was
clocking in after lunch when she heard a page that there was
a phone call for jewelry. When she was on the phone with the
customer, she did not hear the code being entered on the
door, and another employee came in with her children. Lopez
testified that the children ran up against the heavy door and
it "came back and hit her in the back." She
reported the accident to her supervisors, including Sherry
Holmes, who had been coming down the hall as the door was
opening. Lopez completed an accident report and was directed
to go to the emergency room with a claim number to take with
her. After finishing her shift, Lopez was seen at St.
Bernards Medical Center. According to the medical record,
Lopez reported getting hit in the back by a door at work and
having back pain. The record of the physical exam noted
"Back: Mild midline tenderness in the L3-L5 area, no
ecchymosis noted, no significant edema." Following an
examination and x-ray, the physicians impression was
"Back contusion"; Lopez was prescribed medication
and directed to follow up with her family physician, Dr.
saw Dr. Hurst on March 29, 2017. She testified that Dr. Hurst
examined her and had her "stand up and do
exercise." She explained that she was weak in her back
and leg and that Dr. Hurst took her off work and referred her
to physical therapy. In the medical record of the visit, Dr.
I think it is okay for her to return to work. She is very
reluctant to go to work. She states that she would like to
try some physical therapy and some more time before she goes
back to normal activities. We will put her in physical
therapy and we will see her back in a week.
testified that she notified her employer and was contacted by
"workers comp" with arrangements for physical
therapy at HealthSouth. A week after starting therapy, she
was told by Valerie Wilkerson, a representative of the
appellants, to stop treatment at HealthSouth and that
Wilkerson would find a doctor for her. Lopez stated that she
continued therapy when she did not hear from Wilkerson. She
continued to see Dr. Hurst once a week for seven weeks.
Wilkerson later told her to see Dr. Michael Lack along with a
nurse case manager for an evaluation, which occurred on May
9, 2017. Lopez testified that Dr. Lack did not examine her
but reviewed her records and an x-ray from the hospital. The
medical record from the visit indicates that Dr. Lack did
conduct a physical examination as it provided that Lopez
could "stand on her heels and toes" and that Lopez
"had no bruising or discoloration of the back." The
medical record from the visit also states there was no
"evidence of acute injury from getting hit in the
back." According to Lopez, Dr. Lack told her she did not
get hurt and could return to work without restrictions.
called to inform "corporate" that Dr. Lack returned
her to work, but "corporate" told her that Dr. Lack
had not taken her off work and that she was still under the
care of Dr. Hurst. Lopez saw Dr. Hurst on May 11, 2017, and
was released to return to work on May 15.
addition to the testimony and medical evidence regarding the
March 24 injury, there was also testimony and evidence
introduced regarding Lopezs prior back problems. At the
hearing, Lopez acknowledged her prior back issues, which
included taking ...