Case name: Majors v. Randstad Inhouse Services, L.P., et al., No. M2010-01975-WC-R3-WC (Tenn. 10/19/11, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that an assembler was entitled to permanent partial disability benefits for her injury.
What it means: In Tennessee, when there is a close connection between two scheduled members, an injury should be attributed to "the greater."
Summary: An assembler for a manufacturer was operating a torque gun to install screws on motors when the gun "jerked" and "twisted" her hand. She sought treatment but continued to have pain. After receiving a second medical opinion, her symptoms worsened, and her finger became discolored. An orthopedic surgeon performed surgery on her finger and wrist. The surgeon placed permanent restrictions on her use of power tools and ability to lift. The assembler had numbness in her finger, daily pain in her hand and wrist, and problems gripping and grasping objects. She sought benefits. The Tennessee Supreme Court held that she was entitled to PPD benefits for her arm.
The manufacturer agreed that the assembler's injury was compensable but argued that the injury should be limited to her finger, rather than extending to her arm. The court found evidence supporting the decision to apportion the injury to her arm, rather than her finger or hand. The surgeon described the surgery as on her finger, as well as an exploration of the radial artery in the forearm. The operation left a scar on the assembler's wrist, and she had pain in the area of the scar. Another doctor said that medically, the wrist was "involved" and the "greater" member was the arm.
The court also disagreed with the manufacturer's argument that the award of 70 percent PPD was excessive. The court pointed out that the assembler had a limited education. Also, most of her previous work experience required the use of her hands. She had constant pain and a gripping problem.
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December 22, 2011
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