Webb, 042319 ARWC, G802934

Docket Nº:G802934
Case Date:April 23, 2019
No. G802934
Arkansas Workers Compensation
Before the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission
April 23, 2019
         Hearing before Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth W. Hogan on January 31, 2019, in McGehee, Desha County, Arkansas.           Claimant represented by Mr. Michael D. Ray, Attorney at Law, Crossett, Arkansas.           Respondents represented by Mr. Charles H. McLemore, Attorney at Law, Little Rock, Arkansas.           ELIZABETH W. HOGAN, Administrative Law Judge.          ISSUES          A hearing was conducted to determine the claimant’s entitlement to payment of medical expenses, temporary total disability benefits, and attorney’s fees.          At issue is the compensability of the claim pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. §11-9-102.          After reviewing the evidence impartially, without giving benefit of the doubt to either party, Ark. Code Ann. §11-9-704, I find the evidence preponderates in favor of the claimant.          STATEMENT OF THE CASE          The parties stipulated to an employer-employee-carrier relationship on April 20, 2018, at which time the claimant was earning sufficient wages to be entitled to a compensation rate of $673.00/$505.00 in the event this claim is found to be compensable. Health Advantage has paid some expenses.          The claimant contends he injured his back after opening and closing cell doors for the inmates to shower. He seeks payment of medical expenses; temporary total disability benefits from April 21, 2018, to a date yet to be determined; and attorney’s fees.          The respondents controverted the claim, contending the claimant did not injure himself at work. The claimant had a pre-existing condition for which he was receiving treatment prior to April 20, 2018.          The following were submitted without objection and comprise the evidence of record: the parties’ prehearing questionnaires and exhibits contained in the transcript.          The following witnesses testified at the hearing: the claimant, who appeared to be a credible witness and Sergeant José Garcia, whose testimony was corroborative. The claimant shifted his weight frequently while seated.          The claimant, age 51 (date of birth: November 4, 1967), has a high school education. He began work for the respondent-employer in 1998. At the time of his injury, he was making $24.30 per hour as a sergeant, working twelve (12) to fifteen (15) hours due to a staff shortage. His health history includes back pain in 2017 for which he received treatment. He was off work two (2) months as there is no light duty available at the prison. He returned to work at full duty until the accident. The claimant also suffers from heart disease, enlarged prostate (August, September 2018), and kidney stones (July 25, 2018, until the accident). He had right knee surgery in 2014. Although he does not own the land, he farmed sixty (60) acres and used to take in $10-$20,000 yearly. However, in 2018, he lost $2,000 in seed money. He applied for Social Security Disability on October 17, 2018.          The claimant’s job duties included escorting prisoners to and from the showers. Some of the cell doors have rusted hinges and are difficult to open. There is actually one cell door that requires guards to pull on the door while the inmate pushes against the door from the inside. The prisoners have to be handcuffed and shackled. Guards must traverse up and down stairs and walk on concrete flooring.          On the day of the accident, the claimant was transferred to work in a different unit. He injured his back and felt testicular pain while trying to open a cell door. He reported the pain to his coworker, Sgt. Garcia, and called his supervisor from the control room...

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