Skip to content

Wagner & Wagner Representing Appellee Client at Oral Arguments at Summer Conference

Wagner & Wagner Representing Appellee Client at Oral Arguments at Summer Conference The 2024 Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference will be held in Murfreesboro this year, and will offer a number of panels and presentations for attendees. It will also include an actual oral argument in front of the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board – the only case on the docket for argument in front of the Board at the conference.

The case — Theralease Ridley v. Mature Care of Standifer Place, LLC et al. — is Docket No. 2022-01-0478. Wagner & Wagner represents Ms. Ridley, the appellee.

This appeal will be heard by:

  • Timothy W. Conner, Presiding Judge
  • Pele I. Godkin, Judge
  • Meredith Balthrop Weaver, Judge

Summary of the case

Our client, Ms. Ridley, was a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for Mature Care of Standifer Place (now known as The Health Center at Standifer Place), a nursing home in Chattanooga. Ms. Ridley developed back pain which she believed was related to her employment duties; medical tests revealed a degenerative condition. She filed for workers’ compensation benefits, but the authorized physician found no correlation between our client’s injury and her work. She sought a second opinion, and that doctor did find a link between her work and her back injury.

Our client eventually moved to a new location and sought “a new panel of physicians in her new locality.” This request was denied by Mature Care’s insurance company, which still claimed her injuries were not “casually related to her employment.” We brought Ms. Ridley’s claim to the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims, which “concluded that Ms. Ridley’s physician’s opinion rebutted the presumption of correctness afforded to the causation opinion of the authorized treating physician and ordered the employer to provide a panel of physicians in Ms. Ridley’s new location.”

Why is Mature Care appealing the decision against them?

Mature Care is appealing the decision by the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims, which found in favor of our client, because the company claims she had a pre-existing condition. As such, they argue, “the trial court erred in finding Ms. Ridley’s complaints and need for medical treatment to be primarily caused by the work incident, whether Ms. Ridley suffered a compensable aggravation of a pre-existing condition, whether she is entitled to a new panel of physicians, and whether the authorized physician’s opinion was rebutted.”

What is a workers’ compensation appeal?

A workers’ compensation appeal is a legal process by which either party can appeal the trial court’s decision. Per the rules of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Bureau of Workers Compensation, “Any party may appeal any order of a workers’ compensation judge by filing a notice of appeal, on a form approved by the Bureau, with the clerk of the court of workers’ compensation claims, in accordance with Chapter 0800-02-21.”

This process may be initiated when the injured worker disagrees with a decision denying benefits, terminating benefits, or determining the amount of benefits they are entitled to receive. In our case, the appeal was initiated by the employer’s insurance company, which believes that the Court’s findings were incorrect.

The rules for appeals are different from the rules of a trial. In an appeal, no new evidence can be presented, and no new testimony can be given. Instead, the Appeals Board reviews the existing evidence and (typically) any written briefs alleging errors of law or mistakes by the Court. What makes our case special is that the Board is actually hearing oral arguments, as opposed to simply reviewing briefs. These arguments are capped at 25 minutes per side, though attorneys don’t necessarily have to use the full 25 minutes.

The outcome of a workers’ compensation appeal can have significant implications for the injured worker, as it may determine their ability to receive necessary medical treatment, wage replacement benefits, and other forms of compensation. Injured workers should seek experienced legal representation to effectively navigate the appeals process and advocate for their rights. At Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law, we proudly provide that representation.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Chattanooga workers’ compensation attorneys, call our offices or fill out our contact form. Our lawyers serve Cleveland and Chattanooga, TN, North Georgia, and the surrounding areas.