Brief Filed for Rawls in Workers' Compensation Appeal

In Rawls v. Yellow Transportation, the Industrial Commission concluded that plaintiff Veran Rawls suffered a compensable injury by accident in 2005 and has been totally disabled since that time. Defendants appealed. Hank Patterson and Narendra Ghosh, representing Mr. Rawls, filed this brief in the Court of Appeals. Summary of the brief:

As the Industrial Commission found, plaintiff Veran Rawls, a thirty-six-year employee with an excellent work record, has been unable to work in any capacity since his compensable truck accident on 24 February 2005. It is uncontested that plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury in his truck accident, which resulted in a seizure disorder and cognitive difficulties, such as problems with memory, concentration, balance, dizziness, and headaches. These difficulties have persisted throughout the time since his accident, and thus multiple experts opined that plaintiff required neuropsychological testing to evaluate the vocational impact of his cognitive impairments. When these assessments were done, both experts, including one selected by defendants, concluded that plaintiff’s cognitive impairments barred him from any gainful employment. The Commission thus had competent evidence to support its finding that plaintiff has been disabled for the entire period since 24 February 2005.

The Commission also had competent evidence for its Finding of Fact #36 regarding the effects of plaintiff’s traumatic brain injury. This finding was directly supported by the report of Dr. Tegeler, defendants’ chosen expert, and by his deposition testimony. Therefore, Dr. Ewert properly relied on this finding in conducting his evaluation of plaintiff. Moreover, Dr. Manning fully agreed with Dr. Ewert regarding plaintiff’s disability, thus providing further support for the Commission.

Finally, the Commission correctly refused to apportion the contributing factors to plaintiff’s impairment because Dr. Manning conceded that there is no scientific basis to do so, and he had never attempted such a calculation. In any event, the Commission has the authority to accept or reject the opinions of experts, and its decision to reject Dr. Manning’s speculative apportionment cannot be disturbed on appeal. Accordingly, the Commission’s final Opinion and Award should be affirmed in full.