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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on May 4, 2015

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Harold E. Bishop, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alfred Gamble.

Attorneys 2:

Bridget J. Willhite and James F. Mitchell III, Athens, Tennessee, for the appellees, AbitibiBowater, Inc. and Travelers Indemnity Company; and Kathryn A. Baker, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, the Second Injury Fund.

Judge(s): WADE

An employee sustained an injury to his knee while attempting to repair a piece of heavy machinery owned by his employer. Because of a staph infection, three separate surgical procedures were required. The knee gradually healed, leaving a thick and sensitive scar. An independent medical examiner, who testified on behalf of the employee at trial, found a permanent impairment of 7% to the lower extremity and added 5% based upon the disfigurement section of the AMA Guides. The orthopedic surgeon who performed the surgery found a permanent partial impairment of 7% to the lower extremity. A second orthopedist authorized by the employer assigned a permanent impairment of 2%. The trial court assigned a 7% permanent impairment to the lower extremity and also ruled that the employee did not have a meaningful return to work, thereby authorizing an award in excess of 1.5 times the medical impairment rating. In this appeal, the employee contends that he is entitled to an increase in the medical impairment rating from 7% to 12%. In response, the employer argues that the trial court erred by finding an impairment in excess of 2% and by ruling that the employee did not have a meaningful return to work. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.