Appeals Board Sets Knoxville Oral Arguments, Revises Rules

The Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board recently set four cases for oral argument in Knoxville on April 26.

Starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time, the Board will take up Yeaman v. Kindred Health Care, where the Court denied a motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute. Afterward, counsel will argue whether the Court properly held at a compensation hearing that an employee’s post-injury actions weren’t an intervening cause, thereby barring his entitlement to benefits, in Odgen v. McMinnville Tool & Die.

The afternoon session begins with Duignan v. Stowers Machinery Corp., where the Board will review a compensation hearing order granting permanent total disability benefits, considering the conflicting expert testimony. Finally, in Lasser v. Waste Management, counsel will argue the reasonableness of an employee’s actions where he refused to work at a rescue mission while on light-duty. The Court declined to award temporary partial disability benefits in the case.

The arguments will take place at the Supreme Court Building, 505 Main Street.

 

In other developments, revised administrative rules for the Appeals Board took effect last month. Among the noteworthy changes:

  • Rule 0800-02-22.01, filing a notice of appeal, now clarifies that an appellant should file the notice of appeal with the clerk for the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims. Previously, it wasn’t clear if the notice went to the trial court clerk or the clerk for the Appeals Board. The Board also added a provision clarifying that when a party files a notice of appeal, the trial court still retains jurisdiction to rule on appropriate motions. This question arose in the context of parties filing a motion to alter or amend a judgment while contemporaneously seeking Appeals Board review.
  • Rule 0800-02-22-.02, appeals of interlocutory orders, now clarifies the meaning of a “joint statement of the evidence” and outlines the procedure for trial court approval of this statement. Significantly, the provision about the briefing schedule changed from “five business days” after filing a transcript or joint statement of evidence to “ten business days.” This gives the parties additional time to submit briefs. The rule also contains a paragraph explaining the issuance of a docketing notice once the Appeals Board receives the appeal from the trial court clerk. Further, the rule now spells out that employers have five business days to comply with affirmances of orders awarding benefits.
  • Rule 0800-02-22-.03, appeals of compensation orders, now states that trial courts are no longer required to “certify” the record before it can be sent up on appeal. Likewise, the former rule regarding the Appeals Board certifying a trial court order as “final” was scratched, since the statute already addresses it.
  • Rule 0800-02-22-.04, costs, now explains in greater detail the Appeals Board’s authority to assess costs on appeal, to give parties a clearer understanding up front as to how costs are likely to be assessed depending on the outcome. For example, if the Board affirms an order, it typically assesses costs against the appellant.

The Appeals Board proposed these changes to better harmonize the rules with revisions to the Workers’ Compensation Law that took effect last May. The Board also wanted to streamline and simplify the rules wherever possible.

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