Melissa James v. Tractor Suplly

Insurance Company

Gallagher Bassett

Date Decided

March 18, 2021

Panel Members

Timothy Collier

David Hirtle

Mike Stovall


Pre-Existing Injury


File Size

104 KB


Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys

Melissa James v. Tractor Supply Co. (attached) – Ms. James was an assistant store manager at Tractor Supply who complained of neck pain after lifting a 50-pound item at work. Her PCP referred her to a physiatrist, who found a ruptured cervical disc and opined that it was work-related, in the absence of any known pre-existing medical condition.

At deposition, the physiatrist reviewed James’ pre-injury medical records showing her prior upper back pain, her left arm and hand tingling, and her treatment for it. The doctor then concluded that James had a cervical disc herniation before her alleged work injury, that her work activities caused only a flare up of pain but did not worsen the disc herniation, and that the work incident did not require restrictions above what James should have had before the work incident.

Judge Elwin denied James’ petitions, finding that no medical opinion supported a “significant aggravation” of her pre-existing condition. James appealed, arguing that after the work incident her treatment changed and she needed work restrictions, but the Appellate Division affirmed the decision, finding competent evidence in the record to support it.

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