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Denial of injured nurse’s claim on lack of evidence reversed

Posted On: Feb. 12, 2021 12:30 PM CST


An appeals court in Arkansas on Wednesday reversed an earlier ruling that determined the injuries suffered by a nurse who was lifting a patient were not compensable on the basis of a lack of proof and credibility.


Tina Melius, a treatment nurse at Chapel Ridge Nursing Center, reported an on-the-job injury to parts of her leg in 2018 after helping lift a patient who was being transferred. Court records provide a chronology of several medical exams following the incident, as detailed in Tina L. Melius v. Chapel Ridge Nursing Center, LLC, and Amtrust North America Insurance, filed in the Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV in Little Rock.


Following a hearing on Ms. Melius’ claim for workers comp benefits, an administrative law judge denied benefits, finding that she “failed to prove by a preponderance of evidence that she sustained a compensable injury” and “failed to provide evidence in the form of objective medical findings to support her contention that she suffered spasms related to the injury” in 2018.


“She stated she had pain and spasms 1-4 times per day. The medical evidence, however, does not support her contentions. She was treated by several physicians, none of whom found evidence of spasms or made any notations for objective findings of spasms,” court documents state. The judge — who thought Ms. Melius’ testimony “was not credible in light of the balance of evidence presented” — also “denied admissibility of a cell-phone video and photographs of spasms due to lack of authenticity,” documents state. 


The appeals court, drawing on the record of medical treatment, unanimously reversed: “(W)e hold that a reasonable inference from the chronology of events is that the medications, physical therapy, and pain management were prescribed to aid Melius and to treat her injury, and there was no evidence introduced to the contrary. Any other construction of these events does not withstand scrutiny or pass the test of reasonableness.”


The three-judge panel wrote “we reinstate Melius’ case and remand for further determinations of whether she suffered a compensable injury… whether she is entitled to medical treatment, and whether she is entitled to temporary partial-disability benefits.”