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Page v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Company/AT&T, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

November 6, 2019

Lexa PAGE, Appellant
v.
SOUTHWESTERN BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY/AT&T, INC.; Old Republic Insurance Company; and Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc., Appellees

          Rehearing Denied January 8, 2020

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO. G605299]

         Daniel A. Webb, Little Rock, for appellant.

         Mayton, Newkirk & Jones, by: David C. Jones, Little Rock, and Rick Behring Jr., for appellees.

         OPINION

         LARRY D. VAUGHT, Judge

          Lexa Page appeals the January 16, 2019 opinion of the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (Commission) finding that he failed to prove that (1) his cervicothoracic syrinx is a compensable consequence of injuries he received as a result of a work-related motor-vehicle accident, and (2) he is entitled to additional temporary total-disability (TTD) benefits for the syrinx.[1] On appeal, Page argues that substantial evidence does not support the Commission’s opinion. We affirm.

          On July 20, 2016, Page, who installed internet and telephone services for appellee Southwestern Bell Telephone Company (SBTC), was driving his company van and was nearly stopped at an intersection when he was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by a third party traveling approximately fifty-five miles per hour. Page testified that his head hurt after the accident and that he was unable to finish working his shift. The next morning, Page sought medical treatment for neck and back pain along with right-arm tingling. From July 21, 2016, to February 2, 2018, Page was treated for neck and back pain by multiple doctors, including Dr. Joseph Deluca, Dr. Bill Dedman, Dr. Jay Lipke, Dr. David Connor, Dr. Christopher Mocek, Dr. P.B. Simpson, and Dr. Peter Campbell. Page also had an independent medical examination (IME) performed by Dr. Wayne Bruffett.

         Page was diagnosed with strains to his cervical and thoracic spine. SBTC accepted these strains as compensable injuries and paid all medical and TTD benefits for these injuries through February 8, 2017.[2] Page was also diagnosed with a cervicothoracic syrinx or syringomyelia— a condition characterized by the formation of a fluid-filled cavity or cyst within the spinal cord. Page claimed that the syrinx was a compensable injury caused by the motor-vehicle

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accident and that he was entitled to additional medical and TTD benefits. SBTC controverted the claim for additional benefits for the syrinx, contending that it was not related to the motor-vehicle accident.

          A hearing was held before an administrative law judge (ALJ) on April 4, 2018, at which Page and his supervisor, Martin Tunstall, testified and medical evidence was introduced. The medical evidence confirms— and the parties do not dispute— that Page suffers from a ...


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