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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Jun 30, 2016

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Terry L. Hill, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Conagra Foods Packaged Foods, LLC

Attorneys 2:

Scott G. Kirk, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, John E. Houston

Judge(s): HURD

John E. Houston (“Employee”) alleged he sustained a compensable injury to his back in June 2013. He initially sought medical treatment through his health insurer and told his doctors his injury occurred in the course of his employment at Conagra (“Employer”). When Employee submitted a claim for short-term disability benefits and FMLA leave through Employer, however, he stated his condition was not related to his employment. He ultimately had back surgery on August 22, 2013. On September 13, 2013, Employee gave notice of what he alleged to be a work-related injury to Employer by means of a letter from counsel. Employer denied the claim, based in part on the lack of timely notice. The trial court found Employee’s application for short-term disability benefits provided notice that Employer had an injured employee, and, had Employer conducted an investigation at that time, it would have become aware the injury was work related. The court determined notice, therefore, was timely. It awarded permanent partial disability benefits and entered judgment accordingly. Employer has appealed from that judgment. 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 reverse the judgment.