Tennessee: Appellate Court Overturns Findings That Heat Exhaustion Resulted in Permanent Disability

Acknowledging that the trial court has substantial discretion in weighing the evidence, including the medical evidence, but noting as well that where all the medical evidence was in the form of deposition, the reviewing court analyzes the evidence without a presumption of correctness, a Tennessee appellate court reversed a trial court’s decision that a workers’ compensation claimant was entitled to PPD benefits associated with two separate episodes of heat exhaustion during one summer.  Claimant’s expert, an orthopedic surgeon, professed familiarity with heat exhaustion, but admitted other types of specialists usually treated the condition and admitted he knew of no literature supporting the contention that permanent injury could result from heat exhaustion.  The employer’s expert, on the other hand, had received specific training concerning heat exposure in the workplace, both in medical school and in graduate programs.  This expert provided the court with much more detailed testimony, including weather data and information concerning claimant's job duties and non-work activities.  The expert indicated it was medically undisputed that heat exhaustion did not cause permanent injury. Noting that all the medical tests performed after the episodes were within normal ranges, the appellate court held that the evidence preponderated against the trial court's finding that claimant sustained permanent disability.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Hollars v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 2014 Tenn. LEXIS 190 (Mar. 7, 2014) [2014 Tenn. LEXIS 190 (Mar. 7, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 130.05 [130.05]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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