Torey Andrews v. Yates Services, LLC, et al. - Articles

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Posted by: Landry Butler on May 8, 2018

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals Board

Attorneys 1:

Samuel B. Garner, Jr., Pulaski, Tennessee, for the employee-appellant, Torey Andrews.

Attorneys 2:

John R. Rucker, Jr., Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the employer-appellee, Yates Services, LLC.

Judge(s): CONNER

The employee sought attorneys’ fees and expenses as a result of the employer’s alleged wrongful denial of the employee’s claim for benefits pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-226(d)(l)(B) (2016). In an “Agreed Stipulation,” the parties acknowledged the employee’s entitlement to certain permanent disability benefits and agreed the employee “has the right to seek additional benefits at the conclusion of the [initial] compensation period.” Thereafter, the employee filed a “renewed motion” for attorneys’ fees and expenses and argued “‘wrongfully denies’ should be interpreted such that an employer who has denied benefits . . . must pay for attorney’s fees/expenses . . . once a favorable decision of employee benefits has been issued absent some compelling reason to the contrary.” In response, the employer argued that “wrongful” means more than a mere mistake or error and, in any event, the court should not address the employee’s claim for attorneys’ fees and expenses prior to the conclusion of the case. The trial court denied the employee’s motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses, concluding that “‘wrongfully’ in this context requires more than the mere existence of a denial” and “requires, at a minimum, a finding that the employer’s denial lacked good cause.” Upon careful consideration of the record, we affirm the trial court’s decision on other grounds and certify the compensation order as final.