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Tyson Poultry, Inc. v. Montelongo

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

November 13, 2019

TYSON POULTRY, INC. APPELLANT
v.
FREDERICO MONTELONGO APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO. G701936]

          Ledbetter, Cogbill, Arnold & Harrison, LLP, by: R. Scott Zuerker and Victor L. Crowell, for appellant.

          Medlock and Gramlich, LLP, by: M. Jered Medlock, for appellee.

          ROBERT J. GLADWIN, JUDGE.

         Tyson Poultry, Inc. (Tyson), appeals the March 15, 2019 opinion of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) reversing the September 5, 2018 opinion of the administrative law judge (ALJ) and finding that Frederico Montelongo was entitled to additional medical treatment. Tyson argues that the Commission erred in arbitrarily accepting Montelongo's expert's medical opinion that the compensable injury was the cause of the need for additional medical treatment in the form of a total right-knee replacement. We affirm.

         I. Facts

         Montelongo had been employed by Tyson for twenty-three years when he suffered a compensable injury after he slipped off a ladder and injured his right knee on September 3, 2016. Although he claims to have reported the incident to his supervisor and a nurse at Tyson, Montelongo did not receive any medical treatment until December 7, Montelongo was seen by Dr. Greg Loyd, who diagnosed him with "unspecified superficial injury of right knee" and prescribed Vimovo. Dr. Loyd noted that Montelongo "likely has a medial menisceal [sic] tear" and planned to try conservative therapy for a few weeks. Because of Montelongo's continuing symptoms, Dr. Loyd recommended an MRI on December 28.

         Dr. Loyd's January 12, 2017 medical record notes, "MRI of right knee show: joint effusion, tear of anterior horn of medial meniscus, possible associated loose body, and bakers [sic] cyst." Dr. Loyd also noted that Montelongo had some degenerative changes of the knee joint. He referred Montelongo to an orthopedist for further evaluation and treatment.

         Montelongo began treatment with Dr. Russell Allison on January 25. Dr. Allison diagnosed a lateral meniscal tear and medial meniscal tear and recommended right-knee arthroscopy. On April 10, Montelongo underwent a right-knee arthroscopy with partial medial and lateral meniscectomies and a right-knee chondroplasty of patellofemoral and medial compartments.

         Dr. Allison released Montelongo at maximum medical improvement on June 7. Montelongo was assessed with an impairment rating of 1 percent to the person as a whole and 3 percent left lower extremity[1] based on Table 64 on page 3/85 of Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 4th edition.

         Montelongo returned to see Dr. Allison on July 24 with complaints that his symptoms had worsened since his last visit. During this visit, Dr. Allison performed an intraarticular cortisone injection and noted that Montelongo "has arthritis and will need a knee replacement at some point."

         Montelongo, on his own, then saw Dr. Charles Pearce, another orthopedist, on July 31, and his chief complaint was noted as chronic right-knee pain. Dr. Pearce noted that x-rays he ordered and interpreted "do show moderate patellofemoral arthritis and some change of the tibial femoral joint as well." Dr. Pearce treated Montelongo with over-the-counter medications, gave him a brace for his knee, and asked him to return in six weeks, noting that an "[i]njection may be helpful but ultimately knee replacement may be indicated."

         Montelongo returned to Dr. Allison on October 11, 2017. Dr. Allison stated that x-rays revealed moderate arthritis with moderate loss of joint space, sclerosis, spurring, and degenerative changes. He diagnosed Montelongo's condition as unilateral primary osteoarthritis of the right knee and gave him a cortisone injection.

         Montelongo exercised his right to a one-time change of physician to Dr. Tarik Sidani. He saw Dr. Sidani on November 13, ...


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