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Canas-Luong v. Americold Realty Trust

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

June 23, 2015

ELIZABETH S. CANAS-LUONG, APPELLEE,
v.
AMERICOLD REALTY TRUST, APPELLANT

Page 102

Appeal from the Workers' Compensation Court: MICHAEL K. HIGH, Judge.

Jon S. Reid, of Lamson, Dugan & Murray, L.L.P., for appellant.

Jeffrey F. Putnam, of Law Offices of Jeffrey F. Putnam, P.C., L.L.O., for appellee.

INBODY, PIRTLE, and BISHOP, Judges.

OPINION

Page 103

[22 Neb.App. 1000] Bishop, Judge.

Elizabeth S. Canas-Luong was shot 11 times by a coworker while working for Americold Realty Trust (Americold) in Crete, Saline County, Nebraska, on September 22, 2010. She sustained injuries to her right arm, left chest wall, lower abdomen, back, spleen, colon, liver, right kidney, and abdomen. She also suffered from psychological problems due to posttraumatic stress syndrome and depression. The Workers' Compensation Court found that Canas-Luong had reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) with respect to the physical injuries to her body, but that she had not yet reached MMI for her psychological injuries. The compensation court ordered temporary total disability from the date of the injuries through the date of trial and until such time as she reaches MMI for the psychological injuries. The compensation court also awarded Canas-Luong a 39-percent permanent partial disability for the impairment to her

Page 104

right upper extremity. The compensation court further ordered that after reaching MMI, Canas-Luong was entitled to be evaluated by a vocational rehabilitation counselor both for a loss of earning power evaluation and for help to find suitable work. Americold was ordered to continue to pay for future medical and hospital care as may be reasonably necessary, and Americold was given a credit for payments already made to Canas-Luong for indemnity benefits and medical bills. Americold appealed. Because [22 Neb.App. 1001] Canas-Luong has not reached MMI with respect to all of her injuries and was awarded ongoing temporary total disability benefits, we find that the compensation court erred by prematurely awarding her permanent partial disability for her right upper extremity. We therefore reverse that portion of the compensation court's award.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On October 4, 2012, Canas-Luong petitioned for workers' compensation benefits for the injuries she sustained. Americold contested the extent and nature of Canas-Luong's injuries.

At the time of trial on October 17, 2013, the parties stipulated to the following: (1) Canas-Luong sustained an accident arising out of and in the course of employment with Americold on or about September 22, 2010, which resulted in injury to her right arm, left chest wall, lower abdomen, back, spleen, colon, liver, right kidney, and abdomen; (2) the accident occurred in Crete; (3) Canas-Luong gave timely notice of the accident; (4) Canas-Luong is entitled to benefits under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act; (5) on the date of the accident, Canas-Luong was earning an average weekly wage of $596.65 for purposes of temporary disability and permanent disability; (6) all of the medical expenses incurred as of the date of trial that were reasonably related to the accident and injury of September 22 had been paid or would be paid as set forth in exhibit 37; and (7) pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-120 (Cum. Supp. 2014), Canas-Luong is entitled to future medical care that is reasonable and necessary as a result of the accident and injury of September 22.

Canas-Luong testified at trial. Additionally, numerous exhibits (including medical records, vocational assessments, and loss of earning capacity analyses with multiple ...


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