The Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 Wednesday that the
Arkansas Workers Compensation Commission unfairly denied disability
benefits to a Home Depot worker who aggravated a pre-existing back condition at
work. Jonathan Jordan suffered a back injury at work Sept. 27, 2003, trying to
install a rack while on a ladder. The next day he reported the injury and was
diagnosed with a back strain at an emergency room.
1 During the next 2 / 2 years, Jordan saw several doctors
who gave him differing diagnoses but generally agreed he had a preexisting
spinal condition aggravated by heavy lifting.
The commission found Jordan failed to prove he was
entitled to more medical treatment and temporary total-disability benefits.
The commission, in denying Jordans benefits, said
his back pain was a temporary aggravation of a pre-existing condition.
The appeals court ruling written by Judge Josephine Linker
Hart stated that the evidence suggested that the workplace injury caused his
congenital defect to progressively worsen instead of being temporarily
Pre-existing conditions are compensable, Hart wrote, under
workers compensation law. The court ruled that Jordans claim be
sent back to the commission for an award of further medical benefits.
The court also ruled that the commission should reconsider
its denial of temporary total-disability benefits because its ruling was based
on a flawed premise that Jordans pain was the only basis for
Judges John B. Robbins and Brian S. Miller agreed.
At the appeals court, the case is CA 07-131, Jonathan
Jordan v. Home Depot, Inc. and American Home Assurance, from the Arkansas
Workers Compensation Commission.