Walker Die Cast wins appeal

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One of Lewisburg's largest employers has won a workers' compensation case it appealed to a special panel of state Supreme Court justices who ruled the company didn't have to pay for a knee replacement.

Former tow motor operator William W. Griffin's medical history starts, in this case, with a work-related injury in December 2006 to his left knee, according to a Nov. 10 ruling by justices favoring Walker Die Casting.

Almost a year after Griffin's left knee injury, his right knee was replaced and within a couple of months his doctor noticed rehabilitation of the right knee caused pain in the left knee, prompting a doctor's recommendation by March 2009 for a left knee replacement, Jon Kerry Blackwood Sr. wrote for the three justices' ruling.

Griffin sought workers' compensation coverage for a left knee replacement operation. Walker denied the request.

State Supreme Court Justices Blackwood, William C. Koch Jr., and Walter C. Kurtz Sr. were seated as a Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel on June 28.

Griffin's attorney, John R. White of Shelbyville, presented extensive written records, but no medical testimony, other than claims to which Griffin testified, the court states. None of the medical notes show the need for a left knee replacement is caused by the right knee replacement operation.

A relationship between a work-related injury and subsequent need for medical treatment "must be established by the preponderance of the expert medical testimony," Blackwood wrote, citing other cases. "A party who relies solely upon medical records, rather than expert medical testimony, does so at his own peril...

Furthermore, "None of the medical records ... state or imply ... Griffin's need for a left knee replacement..." and the reference to the original injury after March 2007 is mentioned "as a means of financing Mr. Griffin's left knee replacement surgery."

The ruling of the trial court was reversed and the case was returned to Judge Lee Russell for an order consistent with the panel's opinion.

Walker Die Casting and its insurance company, Liberty Mutual, were represented by Christen C. Blackburn of Nashville.