Minton v. Leonard

Decision Date17 February 1967
Citation412 S.W.2d 886,23 McCanless 642,219 Tenn. 642
Parties, 219 Tenn. 642 James M. MINTON, dba Minton Fence Sales, Plaintiff in Error, v. Douglas Steve LEONARD, Defendant in Error.
CourtTennessee Supreme Court

Gore, Gore & Ladd, Bristol, for plaintiff in error.

Slaughter & Jackson, Bristol, for defendant in error.


CRESON, Justice.

This appeal comes from the Chancery Court of Sullivan County, Tennessee.

The parties will be referred to herein as they appeared in the trial court; that is, plaintiff in error James M. Minton, dba Minton Fence Sales, as defendant and defendant in error, Douglas Steve Leonard, as petitioner.

On November 3, 1965, the petitioner filed his petition for workmen's compensation. In the petition it was alleged that on May 1, 1965, while in the course and scope of his employment, the petitioner was injured when a section of pipe fell upon his back while he was engaged in the erection of a backstop at an athletic field. It was further alleged that this injury permanently affected his ability to follow gainful employment. The petitioner prayed for an award of permanent partial disability under this State's Workmen's Compensation law.

The defendant's answer, filed on November 23, 1965, admitted that the petitioner received the injury alleged in his petition in the course and scope of his employment, but denied that, as a result thereof, he suffered any permanent partial disability.

On February 2, 1966, after the taking of the deposition of Dr. E. T. Pearson, the petitioner amended his petition, by adding the following:

'The petitioner further avers that on May 6, 1965 the traumatic experience he suffered aggravated a pre-existing nervous condition causing nervous overlay which renders the petitioner totally and permanently disabled.'

The trial court, on February 8, 1966, allowed the amendment. It was further ordered by the Court, upon motion of defendant, that a psychiatrist be appointed to examine the petitioner and to file report with the attorneys for both sides. The testimony of such psychiatrist was never made a part of the record by either side. The case was heard on June 20, 1966. The trial court found that the petitioner had suffered a fifty per cent permanent partial disability, and entered judgment that he recover for same from the defendant. Appeal has been timely perfected to this Court.

The assignments of error of defendant are as follows:


The Court erred in permitting Doctor E. T. Pearson to testify that Douglas Leonard was not employable on January 31, 1966, since there were no medical findings reflected in the Doctor's testimony on which to base such a conclusion; said error having been timely called to the Court's attention by objection. (Transcript, Page 36)


The Court erred in permitting Doctor E. T. Pearson to testify as to the disability of the petitioner on January 31, 1966, since such alleged disability was based on nervous overlay or traumatic neurosis, and Doctor Pearson admits to being a general practitioner with no training as a psychiatrist, and thus would not be competent to testify as an expert in the field of nervous overlay or traumatic neurosis. (Transcript, Page 37)


The Court erred in finding fifty per cent (50%) permanent partial disability to the body as a whole, since there was no material evidence of any permanent disability.


There was no material evidence to support the Court's findings.

Defendant's first assignment of error asserts that the trial court erred in permitting Dr. E. T. Pearson to testify as to the employability of the petitioner on January 31, 1966. It is contended that no medical findings were given to support Dr. Pearson's conclusion. It appears from the record that Dr. Pearson had been treating the petitioner with some regularity from May 6, 1965, immediately after the accident occurred, until January 31, 1966. It appears that Dr. Pearson's conclusion as to petitioner's disability was based upon this entire series of examinations and treatment. No authority is cited by defendant to support this contention, and it is the opinion of this Court that the same is without merit.

The defendant's second assignment of error urges that Dr. E. T. Pearson, a general practitioner, was unqualified to testify as an expert in the field of nervous overlay or traumatic neurosis. It appears from the record in this case that Dr. Pearson was treating the petitioner for this condition, and was thoroughly familiar with the entire history of petitioner's nervous condition. This testimony, as to the existence of this condition, was entirely competent.

Defendant's third assignment of error makes the point that no material evidence was presented to show that the injury suffered by the petitioner resulted in a permanent disability. This is the serious question presented. The evidence adduced by the petitioner reveals that prior to his injury, on or about May 6, 1965, he was suffering from a nervous disorder. It appears that this nervous disorder was precipitated by his having learned that his wife was some three months pregnant before he married her, he having known her for less than two weeks before their marriage. Dr. Pearson testified that the subsequent injury on may 6, 1965 aggravated this pre-existing nervous condition. Dr. Pearson's testimony is as follows:

'A. He has considerable nervous tension or overlay. I have talked to him, he is back home, and I have talked to his mother about it, and have advised her to get him out and get him to doing something, but I don't know whether she has been successful. I haven't been very successful in getting him to try to get out and go places.

Q. Doctor, I take it that your diagnosis at this time is that there is considerable nervous overlay as a result of this traumatic experience?

A. Yes, it seems to be definitely.

Q. Do you attribute the traumatic experience in May as a factor that aggravated his state of mind?

A. I believe so, because it looks like he would have gotten over the physical disabilities by now. Of course, I didn't see him for a long period of time there while he was up in Indiana, and I don't know--I have forgotten whether he worked any or not while up there.

Q. Doctor, as a result of your diagnosis of his state of mind at this time, can you state with reasonable medical certainty an opinion as to whether he is employable on the open labor market?

A. I don't believe he is now.

Q. Doctor, I take it then that you mean by that that he would be totally disabled by virtue of his state of mind at this time?

MR. LADD: We object to this question asking for a conclusion from the doctor without any foundation on which to base it.

MR. SLAUGHTER: Let me rephrase the question.

Q. (By Mr. Slaughter) Doctor, I take it when you say that he is disabled, you mean he is totally disabled at this time?

A. I believe he is at this time.'

'Q. You have had no training as a psychiatrist, have you, Dr. pearson?

A. No.

Q. Do you feel that with your training as a physician, but without any psychiatry, you could state with reasonable medical certainty whether this boy's present situation is due somewhat from his injury or possibly be due from his marital situation?

MR. SLAUGHTER: We object to that and instruct the doctor that he doesn't have to answer that question. It doesn't reach the issue in this...

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16 cases
  • McCall v. National Health Corporation, No. M2004-00261-WC-R3-CV (Tenn. Sp. Workers Comp. 11/3/2006), M2004-00261-WC-R3-CV.
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court — Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel
    • November 3, 2006
    ...slight laceration, to his neck. There were no broken bones and no evidence of any other serious physical injury. In Minton v. Leonard, 219 Tenn. 642, 412 S.W.2d 886 (1967) the Court recognized that there could be recovery for traumatic neurosis resulting from a back injury. In Gluck Brother......
  • Hill v. Eagle Bend Mfg., Inc.
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • April 7, 1997
    ...& Cas. Co., 812 S.W.2d 278, 284 (Tenn.1991); Gluck Brothers, Inc. v. Pollard, 221 Tenn. 383, 426 S.W.2d 763 (1968); Minton v. Leonard, 219 Tenn. 642, 412 S.W.2d 886 (1967). In this case, Hill suffered a work-related injury on October 20, 1992 which caused a progression of his pre-existing b......
  • Thomas v. Aetna Life & Cas. Co.
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • June 10, 1991
    ...S.W.2d 388 (1948). This rule applies to the aggravation of a pre-existing "nervous" condition by a physical injury. Minton v. Leonard, 219 Tenn. 642, 412 S.W.2d 886 (1967). The evidence in this case shows that the employee suffered an aggravation of a pre-existing mental illness or conditio......
  • Wade v. Aetna Cas. and Sur. Co.
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • July 27, 1987
    ...must be established by expert medical testimony. International Yarn Corp. v. Casson, 541 S.W.2d 150 (Tenn.1976); Minton v. Leonard, 219 Tenn. 642, 412 S.W.2d 886 (1967). In International Yarn, the chancellor found that the plaintiff had sustained a thirty-five percent permanent partial disa......
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