You gotta eat!

By Judge Audrey Headrick, Chattanooga
IMG_6228editAs a working mom, I’m always thinking about time-saving ways that I can plan ahead for a meal.

On a recent drive to work, I thought about my homemade lasagna that everyone in my family loves. Lasagna isn’t hard to make, and I’ve made my recipe so many times that I can whip it up quickly. Unfortunately, from prep time to completion, it still takes almost an hour and a half. Of course, the solution, for organized individuals, is to make it ahead of time, freeze it and defrost the night before you want to bake it.

Food, apparently, is something that consumes (pun intended) a great deal of our daily thinking; one study found we make over 200 decisions about food per day. So, as I was thinking about my lasagna, I then started thinking about several opinions issued by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board over the past two and a half years that dealt in some way with food.

Yes, I have a long drive into work every day.

Interestingly, the Appeals Board has issued several food-related cases. I’m going to talk about just four of them.

First up is Hadzic v. Averitt Express. You might recall the Appeals Board held that Mr. Hadzic’s Request for Expedited Hearing should have been denied due to his failure to file a supporting affidavit under Tennessee Compilation Rules and Regulations 0800-02-21-.14(1)(a). What you might not recall is that Mr. Hadzic claimed he injured multiple body parts while lifting and removing a cooler of food from his personal vehicle to his work truck. (The food helped to keep him awake during the long hours on the road.)

A second case that dealt with food was Navyac v. Universal Health Services. Ms. Navyac traveled from her home to her clients’ locations to train personnel. On one of these trips, she stopped at a fast-food restaurant to use the restroom and purchase breakfast. Ms. Navyac slipped and fell on a wet floor as she was leaving the restaurant. On appeal, Universal argued that Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-102(14)(B) created a three-pronged test for causation with the inclusion of the phrase “in the scope of.” The Appeals Board disagreed, explaining that the critical question isn’t whether a third party’s fault “caused” the injury as that term is applied in a  tort setting, “but whether the employment more likely than not caused the accident in the sense that the accident had its origin in hazards to which the employee was exposed by reason of the employment.”

Causation issues came into play in a third case dealing with the food industry, Kelso v. Five Star Food Services, et al. Ms. Kelso alleged she sustained work-related, repetitive injuries to her arms and shoulder due to her food-prep tasks.

Her first claim alleged a July 1, 2014 date of injury. Five Star denied the claim on the basis that the authorized physician found her conditions weren’t work-related. However, the record simply indicated the physician provided no causation opinion regarding Ms. Kelso’s carpal tunnel syndrome. Ms. Kelso’s second claim alleged an August 26, 2015 date of injury for carpal tunnel syndrome. Five Star argued this claim was barred by the statute of limitations because she was asserting the same claim she made previously. After reiterating that the “last day worked” rule remains applicable to post-Reform claims, the Appeals Board held that the statute of limitations didn’t bar Ms. Kelso’s claim because she left her employment with Five Star on or about September 15, 2015, and filed her Petition for Benefit Determination on November 20, 2015.

The final food-related case I’m going to discuss deals with issues of medical necessity.

In Coolidge v. City Winery Nashville, LLC, et al., a “falling tray” struck Ms. Coolidge on her nose. City Winery accepted the claim. Ms. Coolidge, who had a history of nose surgeries due to a congenital deformity, ultimately sought plastic surgery to repair a nasal deformity in relation to the work injury. However, none of the panel physicians recommended additional medical treatment. In its opinion, the Appeals Board held that Ms. Coolidge didn’t establish by a preponderance of the evidence that she was likely to prevail at a hearing on the merits in establishing that the surgical treatment requested for her nose was reasonably necessary.

Now, if reading about food and wine cases has whet your appetite, you might want to consider giving my lasagna recipe a try. Warning: This recipe is very rich and decadent. It easily serves six to eight people. Enjoy.



  • Box of lasagna noodles
  • 1 jar of beef-flavored tomato sauce
  • 1 pound of hamburger meat
  • Muenster cheese slices (10-12)
  • ½ pack of cream cheese bar
  • Mild cheddar cheese (16 oz.)
  • Mozzarella cheese (16 oz.)
  • Approximately ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil a box of lasagna noodles for approximately 12 minutes. Carefully lay out each noodle to cool on wax paper, taking care to avoid tearing them.

Cook the meat in a skillet and cook until no pink shows. While cooking the meat, use a spatula to chop it up into crumbled pieces. Drain the grease. Add a jar of beef-flavored tomato sauce to the meat. (Yes, I have a homemade recipe for the sauce, but I am a working mom!) To the sauce, add oregano, parsley flakes, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste. If you have time, you can certainly choose to add fresh herbs instead.

In a 13×9 pan, prepare each layer as follows:

  • Line four lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan with each one overlapping the other.
  • Add half of the hamburger sauce.
  • Lay approximately 5-6 slices of Muenster cheese on top of the hamburger sauce.
  • Lay thin slices of cream cheese on top of that layer.
  • Sprinkle half a bag of mozzarella cheese and half a bag of cheddar cheese on top.

Repeat process. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Add Parmesan cheese on top during the last five to 5-10 minutes of baking.

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