Robert L. Harrison, Employee, Appellant,
Owen Steel Company, Inc., Employer, and Old Republic Insurance Company c/o Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc., Carrier, Respondents. Appellate Case No. 2015-002093
October 3, 2017
From The Workers' Compensation Commission
Anthony Barton, of West Columbia, for Appellant.
Wendell Lockhart, of McAngus, Goudelock & Courie, LLC, of
Columbia, and Helen F. Hiser, of McAngus, Goudelock &
Courie, LLC, of Mount Pleasant, for Respondents.
Harrison, an employee of Owen Steel Company, appeals the
decision of the Appellate Panel of the Workers'
Compensation Commission (Appellate Panel) denying his claim
for compensation for injuries sustained from an admitted
workplace accident occurring on September 17, 2008. Harrison
argues the Appellate Panel erred in finding his claim was
barred by the doctrine of laches and the occurrence of
intervening accidents. We affirm.
September 2008, Harrison suffered an admitted workplace
injury to his neck while working for Owen Steel Company as a
gantry welder. Harrison indicated he had neck pain that
radiated behind his left shoulder blade down his left arm to
his elbow. Owen Steel provided medical treatment through Dr.
Thomas Holbrook, who performed a cervical-spine fusion at
C5-C6 in November 2009. After the surgery, Harrison returned
to work on light duty.
was then involved in a motorcycle accident in April 2010. As
a result of the accident, Harrison suffered a left clavicle
fracture and abrasions to the left side of his head, right
arm and palm, and both knees. However, the emergency room
doctor's notes indicate Harrison denied having pain in
his head or neck.
2010, Dr. Holbrook released Harrison at Maximum Medical
Improvement (MMI) with a fifty-pound lifting restriction and
"a 25% impairment to the whole person." Dr.
Holbrook's notes indicate Harrison was doing well and had
no radicular arm pain but, going forth, might occasionally
experience some discomfort that could be relieved with
aspirin. Harrison returned to work full time as a welder.
Donald Johnson performed an independent medical evaluation of
Harrison in September 2010. Dr. Johnson noted Harrison had
returned to work as a welder and observed Harrison had
degenerative changes to his spine above the cervical fusion,
specifically C3-C4 and C4-C5. On September 29, similar to Dr.
Holbrook, Dr. Johnson believed Harrison had reached MMI and
assigned him a 25% impairment rating to the whole person.
early October 2010, Harrison reinjured his neck at work. The
doctor's notes from the emergency room visit state that
Harrison lifted a fifty-pound roll of wire and felt a sharp
pain in his neck that "radiated down to his upper back
and down his left arm." Dr. Raymond Sweet examined
Harrison a month after Harrison's second workplace
injury. Dr. Sweet knew of Harrison's previous surgery by
Dr. Holbrook. Dr. Sweet noted Harrison stated he had never
completely recovered and still had pain in his left arm that
was getting worse. At a follow-up visit two weeks later, Dr.
Sweet reevaluated Harrison and recommended against a
posterior fusion, further noting that Harrison was
experiencing reduced neck pain and no arm pain. Dr. Sweet
released Harrison at MMI with a 15% whole-person impairment
and allowed Harrison to return to work with a restriction not
to lift more than thirty pounds.
returned to work on light duty, working in the tool room for
the entirety of 2011. During that time, Harrison filed a
workers' compensation claim for his 2010 workplace
injury. Owen Steel settled the claim in August 2011 for $42,
193.63. Sometime near the end of 2011, Harrison transitioned
back to work as a welder.
February 2012, Harrison suffered another injury while picking
up his young daughter, who had fallen off of a porch. As a
result of the injury, Harrison went to Doctors Express. The
records from that visit indicate Harrison's chief
complaint was neck pain. Harrison had a follow-up visit with
Dr. Holbrook a month later. Dr. Holbrook's notes indicate
Harrison complained of pain in his neck and right arm that