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.
Mayton, Newkirk & Jones, by: Rick Behring Jr., for
W. GRUBER, CHIEF JUDGE
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
Commission's 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.
Bernard's 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 physician's 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 Lopez's prior back problems. At the
hearing, Lopez acknowledged her prior back issues, which
included taking prescription medicine for back pain from
arthritis as early as 2010 and up to the 2017 injury, as well
as several months of chiropractic treatment following a
January 2016 car accident. Lopez said that when she was
released to return to work on May 15, she felt like she did
before the March 24 injury.
the hearing, the administrative law judge found that Lopez
had sustained a compensable injury and was entitled to
medical and TTD benefits. In an opinion filed October 31,
2018, the Commission, in a split decision, affirmed the
decision of the administrative law judge. Appellants filed a
timely notice of appeal.
review the Commission's decision in the light most
favorable to its findings and affirm when the decision is
supported by substantial evidence. Kiswire Pine Bluff,
Inc. v. Segars, 2018 Ark.App. 296, at 3, 549 S.W.3d 410,
412. 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. Id. The
Commission determines credibility, weighs the evidence, and
resolves conflicts in medical testimony and evidence.
compensable injury must be established by medical evidence
supported by "objective findings." Ark. Code Ann.
§ 11-9-102(4)(D) (Repl. 2012). 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). To prove a
specific-incident injury, the claimant ...