Thursday, August 18, 2011

Court reviews the denial of a firefighter's on-the-job injury benefits for his hypertension and heart disease

PAUL PITTMAN v. CITY OF MEMPHIS (Tenn. Ct. App. August 18, 2011)

Petitioner firefighter appeals denial of on-the-job injury benefits by the City of Memphis. We affirm.

Background:
This dispute involves the application of the presumption contained in Tennessee Code Annotated § 7-51-201 that hypertension and injury to the heart and/or lungs sustained by a police officer or firefighter is job-related.

Before joining the Memphis Fire Department in February 1995, Mr. Pittman underwent a preemployment physical examination that did not reveal signs of hypertension or heart disease. In 1996, he was diagnosed with hypertension and in April 1996 the City admitted Mr. Pittman into the Heart, Hypertension, Lung Program, which entitled him to benefits under the City’s On-the-Job-Injury (“OJI”) policy. He has been receiving OJI benefits for hypertension since April 25, 1996.

In July 2005, Mr. Pittman was hospitalized for chest pain afterfeeling fatigued at work. On July 15, 2005, he underwent a coronary angiography which revealed a 90 percent blockage of Mr. Pittman’s left anterior artery. Mr. Pittman was diagnosed with coronary artery disease and underwent surgery.

On July 22, 2005, Mr. Pittman filed an OJI report seeking admission into the HHL Program for heart disease. Pursuant to City policy, Mr. Pittman’s medical records were reviewed by three physicians. One of the physicians, Jesse. T. Davis, Jr., M.D. (Dr. Davis), stated that he found no causal connection between Mr. Pittman’s occupation as a firefighter and his coronary artery disease. Based on Dr. Davis’ statement, the City denied Mr. Pittman’s claim. Mr. Pittman appealed denial of his claim.

Opinion available at:
http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2011/pittmanp_081811.pdf

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