By Abbie Hudgens, Administrator, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
Seven years have flown by since the creation of the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims.
In 2014, eight judges were appointed after a rigorous application and interview process. In that first year, they handled Requests for Assistance for cases with dates of injury before July 1, 2014, along with expanding dockets of cases under the Reform Act. They were busy from day one.
We knew that within a year’s time, more judges would be needed to decide the burgeoning number of “new law” cases. So in 2015, we added four more judges.
These judges went through a similarly exacting application and vetting process. They are: Judge Robert Durham, Cookeville; Judge Audrey Headrick, Chattanooga; Judge Amber Luttrell, Jackson; and Judge Dale Tipps, Murfreesboro.
I have closely observed these judges’ work and looked for ways to objectively measure their success. We have annually surveyed the bar and self-represented litigants on the quality of the judges’ work in categories of legal ability, writing quality, temperament, diligence and impartiality. Throughout the years, these four judges have all maintained ratings in excess of 4.0 on a scale of 5 in those categories.
They are now being considered for reappointment in June.
Under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-238(a)(1), I must appoint “qualified individuals to serve as workers’ compensation judges.” I take that duty very seriously. As public servants, we at the Bureau strive for transparency in virtually everything we do.
With that in mind, I’m asking for any input you may have regarding the reappointment of any or all of these jurists to assist in the decision-making. Please send your comments to Abbie.Hudgens@tn.gov on or before April 23, 2021.
Thank you in advance.