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Posted by: Landry Butler on Nov 21, 2016

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General & Reporter; Andre´e S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Alexander S. Reiger, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant, Attorney General of Tennessee.

Attorneys 2:

Michael L. Haynie, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steve Lawhon, individually and d/b/a Commercial Services and Auto Owners Insurance Company.

Brian Patrick Dunigan, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Carlos Martinez.

Judge(s): COTTRELL

An undocumented employee sustained a compensable work-related injury and reported the injury to the employer. Two doctors examined the employee, one assigning a 16% medical impairment rating and the other assigning a 24% medical impairment rating. Because of the employee’s undocumented status, the employer did not return the employee to work after the injury. The employee sought workers’ compensation benefits and challenged the constitutionality of the statutory provision potentially limiting his award to one and one-half times the medical impairment rating in such circumstances. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-241(e) (2008 & Supp. 2013). The Attorney General filed an answer defending the constitutionality of the challenged section. The trial court held the challenged statute unconstitutional on the basis of federal preemption and awarded permanent partial disability benefits of 84% to the left arm, or three and one-half times the 24% medical impairment rating. The Attorney General and the employer appealed. 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.