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Tennessee: PTSD Claim Unsuccessful Where Work Related Conference Speaker Sparks Memories of Being Raped as a Child

January 29, 2016 (1 min read)

A Tennessee nurse, who contended she suffered a mental breakdown and PTSD after attending a work-related conference did not establish that the level of stress he experienced at the conference was abnormal, extraordinary, or unusual, held a special workers’ compensation appeals panel in Tennessee. The nurse alleged that one speaker challenged the audience to be more empathetic in questioning patients and told the attendees that they should imagine how the patient felt when asked, “Have you ever been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused?” The nurse said he “freaked out” at the conference and had flashbacks of when he had been raped as a child by an older cousin. Shortly after the conference, the nurse left his employment at the medical center where he worked and did not return. The appellate panel said the trial court’s use of an objective standard to judge the nurse’s levels of stress was appropriate. The trial court was within its discretion to find that the nurse’s injuries were not compensable since the stress the employee claimed had caused his depression and PTSD was not unusual. The appellate panel held that the evidence supported a finding that the stress on the nurse was not abnormal, extraordinary, or unusual when compared to the stress ordinarily experienced by an employee in the same type of duty. It was not even unusual compared to the stress ordinarily experienced by the nurse himself in his capacity as a nurse working in a psychiatric unit.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

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

See Ireton v. Horizon Mental Health Mgmt., LLC, 2016 Tenn. LEXIS 3 (Jan. 19, 2016) [2016 Tenn. LEXIS 3 (Jan. 19, 2016)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, §§ 44.05, 56.06 [44.05, 56.06]

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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


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