MAXINE WATLEY v. WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION ET AL. (TWCA September 8, 2011)
In this workers' compensation case, the employee injured her lower back at work in May 2006. She received medical treatment for a short period of time and was then released by her doctor. In July 2007, she consulted a neurosurgeon for continuing lower back pain. Around the same time, she accepted a voluntary layoff from her employer, then retired. She later had two surgeries on her lower back: a discectomy in October 2007, and a fusion in April 2008.
She filed this action, alleging that the surgeries and resulting disability were caused by her employment. Her employer denied the claim. The trial court found that the October 2007 surgery was caused by her May 2006 injury, but the April 2008 surgery was not. It further found that her award of permanent disability benefits was "capped" at one and one-half times her anatomical impairment due to her voluntary retirement. Her employer has appealed, contending that the trial court erred by finding her claim was not barred by the statute of limitations, and by using an incorrect impairment rating as the basis of its award. Employee contends that the trial court erred by failing to find that she was permanently and totally disabled. We affirm the judgment.
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