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Posted by: Landry Butler on Jan 18, 2017

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals Board

Attorneys 1:

W. Troy Hart, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the employer-appellant,, Inc.

Attorneys 2:

Robert A. Wharton, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the employee-appellee, Samuel Panzarella.

Judge(s): HENSLEY

In this appeal, the employer challenges the trial court’s decision to treat the proceeding before it as an expedited hearing rather than a trial on the merits. It also disputes the trial court’s determination that the employee would likely prevail at a hearing on the merits in establishing that his injury arose primarily from a hazard incident to his employment, and it disputes the court’s award of medical and temporary disability benefits. The employer denied the claim, contending the employee’s injury was idiopathic. Following a trial on the merits, the court determined that, because the employee was not at maximum medical improvement, the trial would be treated as an expedited hearing pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-239(d). The court found the employee was likely to prevail at a hearing on the merits and awarded medical and temporary disability benefits. The employer has appealed. We vacate the trial court’s decision and remand the case for the trial court’s determination of the benefits, if any, to which the employee is entitled based upon the proof presented at the trial on the merits.