Rehearing Denied January 15, 2020
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
& Co., PLLC, by: Tim Cullen, for appellant.
Law Firm, P.A., Little Rock, by: Jeremy Swearingen, and David
Tyler Mills, for appellees.
S. HIXSON, Judge
Appellant Jason Papageorge brought a workers compensation
claim alleging that he sustained compensable neck and
spinal-cord injuries while working for appellee Tyson Shared
Services, Inc. (Tyson) in the early morning hours of March
16, 2016. Jason was a salesman for Tyson, and his claim arose
out of a one-car automobile accident that occurred while he
was driving from his house to the Northwest Arkansas Regional
Airport in anticipation of traveling to meet with an
out-of-state customer. The claim was originally accepted by
Tyson as compensable. However, Tyson
subsequently controverted the claim after learning that
Jasons blood had tested positive for alcohol at Springfield
Mercy Hospital on the morning of the accident. Tyson relied
on the statutory presumption that the accident was
substantially occasioned by the use of alcohol.
a hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) denied
compensability of Jasons claim. The ALJ found that the
presence of alcohol created a rebuttable presumption that the
accident was substantially occasioned by alcohol, and that
Jason was not entitled to compensation because he failed to
prove by a preponderance of the evidence that alcohol did not
substantially occasion the accident. The Arkansas Workers
Compensation Commission affirmed and adopted the ALJs
now appeals from the Commissions decision denying
compensability. On appeal, he argues that the Commission
erred in relying on the statutory presumption to deny
benefits because he plainly and clearly rebutted the
presumption. We affirm.
statutory presumption at issue in this case is encompassed in
Arkansas Code Annotated section 11-9-102(4)(B)(iv) (Repl.
2012), which provides:
(B) "Compensable injury" does not include:
(iv) (a) Injury where the accident was substantially
occasioned by the use of alcohol, illegal drugs, or
prescription drugs used in contravention of physicians
(b) The presence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or
prescription drugs used in contravention of a physicians
orders shall create a rebuttable presumption that the injury
or accident was substantially occasioned by the use of
alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs used in
contravention of physicians orders.
(c) Every employee is deemed by his or her
performance of services to have impliedly consented to
reasonable and responsible testing by properly trained
medical or law enforcement personnel for the presence of any
of the aforementioned substances in the employees body.
(d) An employee shall not be entitled to
compensation unless it is proved by a preponderance of the
evidence that the alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription
drugs utilized in contravention of the physicians orders did
not substantially occasion the injury or accident.
the Commission denies benefits because the claimant has
failed to meet his burden of proof, the substantial-evidence
standard of proof requires that we affirm if the Commissions
decision displays a substantial basis for the denial of
relief. Ayers v. City of Ashdown, 2014 Ark.App. 270,
2014 WL 1758906. We view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the Commissions decision, which will be
affirmed if it is supported by substantial evidence.
Parker v. Comcast Cable Corp., 100 Ark.App. 400, 269
S.W.3d 391 (2007). 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, the appellate court
must affirm. Id. We defer to the Commissions
findings of credibility and the resolution of conflicting
evidence. Welcher v. Davis Nursing Home, 2009
Ark.App. 831, 2009 WL 4673860.
record shows that on the night before the accident, Jason and
his wife, Shelby, had returned home to northwest Arkansas
from their honeymoon in Bora Bora. Their long day of travel
included consecutive flights from Bora Bora to Tahiti,
Los Angeles, Dallas, and to their final destination at the
Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. They arrived at the
Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport at around 8:00 p.m.
Jasons job as a salesman involved extensive travel, and he
was scheduled to leave on ...