The Arkansas Court of Appeals says the state Workers’ Compensation Commission did such a poor job of considering an injured trucker’s claim that it was “impossible” for the court to properly review the case.
The court ruling, written by Chief Judge John Mauzy Pittman, said the commission gave the court paperwork “so utterly inadequate as to preclude any meaningful review.”
The opinion reversed a commission ruling against Dexter Gary and sent the case back to the panel.
Gary, who worked for Maverick Transportation Inc., was injured in 2003 while trying to install an anti-theft device to a tractor-trailer. Gary filed a claim describing himself as permanently and totally disabled.
Pittman wrote that the evidence shows Gary remains in severe pain from the injury and requires daily doses of morphine and other powerful pain medications. Gary remains “incapable of anything but occasional light exertion and (is) unable to remain on his feet long enough to shop without using motorized carts,” Pittman said in the opinion.
Gary drove a flatbed tractor-trailer loaded with steel, and was hired by Maverick even though he previously had injured his spine in 1986. The Workers’ Compensation Commission ruled that Gary could receive a wage-loss disability for his 2003 injury, but did not find him permanently disabled.
In addition, the commission found Gary could return to truck driving, an occupation it described as “light to sedentary work.”
Pittman said the commission failed to adequately document the facts and submitted paper that was inconsistent. The judge also wrote that the commission both blamed Gary’s back pain on his old injury, while denying a new claim for the old injury because “the new injury was producing his current disability status.”
“The commission did not merely fail to make essential findings regarding (the) appellant’s physical condition and ability,” Pittman wrote. “It compounded this error by premising its denial of benefits to (the) appellant upon two inconsistent findings of fact.”
Saying it was “impossible” to properly review the case, the court sent it back to the commission.
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