Richard McFarlin v. Conway Regional Medical Center et al.Annotate this Case
ARKANSAS COURT OF APPEALS
NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION
CONWAY REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, ET AL.
November 10, 2004
APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO. E909358]
John Mauzy Pittman, Judge
The appellant in this workers' compensation case sustained a compensable injury to his lumbar spine while employed in the appellee's laundry facility in 1999. He was treated by partial laminectomy and diskectomy. After these surgical procedures, appellant was referred for a functional capacity evaluation. Upon completion of this evaluation, Dr. Russell opined that appellant had an 8% anatomical impairment rating, and that he could return to his employment with appellee. Appellant returned to work in June 2000, but was terminated in December 2000 for excessive absenteeism. Contending that his absenteeism was caused by complications arising from his compensable injury, appellant requested a vocational rehabilitation evaluation and related services at the expense of the employer. After a hearing, the Commission found that appellant was neither eligible for, nor entitled to, the requested evaluation and services. This appeal followed.
For reversal, appellant contends that the Commission erred in finding that he was not entitled to the requested vocational rehabilitation evaluation. He also argues that the administrative law judge erred in interpreting the rehabilitation provisions of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Law. We find no error, and we affirm.
Pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated § 11-9-505(b)(1) (Repl. 2002), an employee who is entitled to receive compensation benefits for permanent disability, and who has not been offered an opportunity to return to work, shall be paid reasonable costs of a vocational rehabilitation program that is reasonable in relation to the disability sustained by the employee. In the present case, appellant's argument is entirely premised on his assertions that appellee did not return him to work under the meaning of the statute because he was not offered employment within his medical restrictions, and that his absenteeism was the result of continuing medical problems stemming from his compensable injury. However, the Commission was not required to so find.
The Commission is not required to believe the testimony of the claimant or any other witness, but may accept and translate into findings of fact only those portions of the testimony it deems worthy of belief. Farmers Cooperative v. Biles, 77 Ark. App. 1, 69 S.W.3d 899 (2002). In determining the sufficiency of the evidence to support the findings made by the Workers' Compensation Commission, we view the evidence and all reasonable inferences deducible therefrom in the light most favorable to the Commission's findings, and we will affirm if those findings are supported by substantial evidence, i.e., such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Id. In the present case there was evidence that Dr. Russell, in a letter of June 21, 2000, stated that he saw nothing in appellant's job description that would hinder a return to work by appellant at that point. This evidence supports a finding that appellant was, in fact, returned by appellee to employment that was within his medical restrictions. Furthermore, although appellant testified at the hearing that his absenteeism resulted from medical problems, this testimony was not corroborated by any testimonial or documentary evidence to show that appellant's absences were health related. The Commission was not required to believe appellant's uncorroborated testimony. The testimony of an interested party is always considered to be controverted, and the Commission is not required to believe the testimony of the claimant or any other witness. Id.; Patterson v. Frito Lay, Inc., 66 Ark. App. 159, 992 S.W.2d 130 (1999).
Hart and Vaught, JJ., agree.