2023 Conference Info

  • Conference Dates: Wed, Jun 14, 2023 - Fri, Jun 16, 2023
  • Location: Murfreesboro, TN

2022 Agenda


Registration Opens

10:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Grab a name tag and make yourself at home.

REWARD Employer Brunch

9:45 AM in Cambridge AB

A free, pre-conference event open to employers who are interested in creating or sharpening their return-to-work programs.


Alberto Gonzales

Pre-Conference Session: Judicial Ethics and Civil Public Discourse

11:00 AM - Noon in Oakleigh Ballroom

Introduction: Hon. Kenneth Switzer, Chief Judge, Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims 

Presenter: Hon. Alberto R. Gonzales, Dean and Doyle Rogers Distinguished Professor of Law, College of Law, Belmont University 

Contemporary observers often lament the increasingly uncivil nature of public discourse.  This wide-ranging presentation by Alberto Gonzalez, former Justice of the Texas Supreme Court and Attorney General of the United States under President George W. Bush and current Dean of the Belmont University College of Law, considers how the provisions of the Code of Judicial regarding judge-lawyer interaction reflect healthy communication practices and provide a model for the broader civic community.  This presentation also highlights some significant potential changes in the traditional legal profession and how they could be affected by judicial ethics principles. 

Abbie Hudgens, Jeff Francis

Welcoming Comments and Bureau Updates 

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM in Mirabella F-J 

Presentation of Colors: Tennessee State Parks Honor Guard
Pledge of Allegiance: Patrick Ruth 
Singing of the National Anthem

Presenters: Abbie Hudgens, Administrator, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation 
Jeff Francis, Assistant Administrator, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation 

This presentation will cover the accomplishments made by the Bureau over the past twelve months in implementing legislation and programmatic rules.  Since the 2021 Education Conference, a Physician’s Conference has been conducted, and the Certified Physician Program has been introduced.  New rules for the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims and Alternative Dispute Resolution, the Uninsured Employer’s Fund (UEF) Benefit Program have gone into effect.  Rulemaking is currently underway for the Certified Physician Program, Utilization Review, Claims Handling Standards, and the Penalty Program. The Adjuster Certification Program has been delivered three more times, virtually rather than in-person, with additional offerings scheduled.  This session will discuss these developments and lay the groundwork for the three-day conference by introducing the issues and outlining the topics to be discussed in the days that follow. 

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Bob Wilson

The Wild & Wacky World of Workers' Compensation

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM in Mirabella F-J 

Introduction by Jeff Francis, Assistant Administrator, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation 

Presenter: Bob Wilson, President, WorkCompCollege.com   

There are strong misperceptions about workers' comp, its benefits and its processes from those outside the industry.  Those misperceptions cause delays, increased expense and reduced quality of outcomes. Communication is key - "In the absence of clear and transparent information, cancerous thoughts will grow."  

Impairment vs. Disability. There is a difference, and if we handle claims timely and appropriately, we can often avoid the latter.  What happens in the mind and life of an injured worker is as important as the physical injury we are treating.

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Networking Break

2:30 PM - 3:00 PM in Mirabella A-E

Visit exhibitors.

50 Years Ago the National Commission Issued a Report on the State of Workmens’  Compensation: Where Was Workers Compensation at Its Inception, Where Was It in  1972 and Where Are We Today?

3:00 PM - 4:15 PM in Mirabella F-J

Introduction by Hon. Dale Tipps, Judge, Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims 
Facilitator: Paul Sighinolfi, Senior Managing Director, Ametros 
Panelists: Hon. David Langham, Florida Deputy Chief Judge, of Compensation Claims 
Alan Pierce 
Adrienne B. Fazio, Principal, Manier & Herod 

This year the national workers compensation community celebrates the 50th anniversary of the report of the National Commission on State Workers’ Compensation Laws. This panel will give context to the historical underpinning of the National Commission with a view towards the origins of workers’ comp, the findings and recommendations of the Commission, and the impact the Commission report has had on workers’ compensation systems.

Congress, when it enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970, directed a commission be established to assess the adequacy and equity of “workmens’” compensation nationally. There were concerns workers’ compensation was failing the injured with incomplete coverage, insufficient benefits, and unsatisfactorily administered state systems. A Commission was created, and it was tasked with addressing five major objectives.

The panel in this session will focus its discussion on the Report’s stated objectives, the Commission’s ultimate findings, the threat of nationalization and the multiple recommendations. The panel will bring the Commissions’ work current with a discussion of where we are today, the impact the Commission’s recommendations had and the lessons we have learned over the last 50 years.

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Worker Memorial Presentation

4:15 PM - 4:30 PM in Mirabella F-J

Introduction by Hon. Joshua D. Baker, Judge, Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims

On April 28, 1970, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act which established OSHA.  It was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 29, 1970, promising workers the right to a safe and healthful workplace. In the 47 years since, workplaces have evolved, and more jobs fall outside the traditional nine to five timeslots. And fatality rates have fallen.  It is estimated by the USDOL that some 14,000 workers were killed on the job in 1970.  That number fell to 4,340 in 2009 even though the nation’s workforce doubled.  However, workplace hazards remain, and fatalities still occur.

This session will raise awareness about the need to strengthen our commitment to make jobs safer and will honor those Tennessee workers killed at work from May 1, 2021, through April 30, 2022.  Other sessions in the conference will highlight the preventable nature of most workplace accidents and illnesses.

Adjourn to Welcome Reception

4:30 PM in Mirabella A-E



7:00 AM

Returning Injured Employees to Work Sooner: Review of the REWARD Program

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM in Mirabella F-J

Moderator: Suzy Douglas, Medical Services Coordinator, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

Presenters: Peter Frech, Attorney, Morgan & Morgan
Josh Coats, Regional Safety Director, Brasfield & Gorrie, L.L.C. 
Camille Terranova, RN, CCM, Case Manager, Genex Services
Cerisia A. Cummings, D.O, Bridgestone/Firestone

Preparation, effective communication, and collaboration among parties are important components of successful return-to-work programs.  The Return Employees to Work And Reduce Disabilities (REWARD) Program provides information for employers to create a return-to-work program or improve an existing one.  Our distinguished panel for this REWARD Program session includes representatives from different aspects of the return-to-work process.  The panelists will share their experiences and perspectives on returning injured workers to work safely and effectively.  They will also discuss how employers can better prepare for transitioning injured workers back to work, including how to select physicians, how to communicate effectively and frequently, and how to engage the injured worker in the recovery process. 

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Networking Break

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM in Mirabella A-E

Visit exhibitors.

The Total Worker Health® Approach – Promising Policies, Programs, and Practices

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM in Mirabella F-J 

Introduction by Allison Lowry, Associate Counsel, Subsequent Injury Fund 
Presenter: Alysha R. Meyers, PhD, CPE, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Field Studies and Engineering & Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies

Traditional Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) programs are designed to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses by reducing workers’ exposure to occupational hazards. Workplace wellness programs are designed to help workers to improve their own health and well-being. Total Worker Health® (TWH) is an integrated, comprehensive approach to health protection and disease prevention that addresses both work and non-work issues.  This presentation will provide an overview of the TWH framework. Today, TWH is defined as policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts, all with the goal of advancing worker well-being.  This holistic, integrated approach seeks to craft safer jobs that create both a sustainable income, positive health outcomes, and greater engagement among all workers, in all types of work settings – large and small. 

To be successful, this approach demands a new examination of the risks and rewards of work, a broader appreciation of the determinants, antecedents, interactions, and relationships of exposures, both hazardous and beneficial. It also requires new models of work design and organization and better tools and interventions to help workers with the challenges they face, both at work and away from the job.

This presentation will unpack what we know about the tight link between work and health, and spur new dialogue on the future steps we must take to optimize work for today’s workforce and for the generations that follow.  We will present several case studies from different organizations who have demonstrated strong leadership commitment to protecting and promoting the health of their workers using a TWH. 

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Networking Break

10:30 AM - 11:00 AM in Mirabella A-E

Visit exhibitors.

Scott Coleman

Using Wearable Technology and Data Analysis to Reduce Risk of Injury and Return Injured Workers Back to Their Pre-injury Workload 

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM in Mirabella F-J 

Introduction by Brad Frank, Mediation Specialist, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation 

Presenter: Scott Coleman, Sports Physiotherapist, CEO, Preventure 

Wearable technology has become a core element in the injury prevention and post injury rehabilitation process for many professional sports teams. This information is also essential in the injury prevention and post injury rehabilitation and return to work process following workplace injury.

Over the past five years Scott Coleman and Preventure have been collaborating with various employers across different industries to create a cost-effective and sustainable wearable technology tool that enables the measurement of the physical demands of individual work tasks and the capacity of workers to perform these tasks throughout their shift.

Essential Outcomes – Those who attend this session will receive:

  • Background on the use of wearable technology for movement analysis 
  • An overview of the data analysis and reporting process 
  • Various case studies involving the use of wearable technology to prevent injuries and return injured workers back to full workload 

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Plated Lunch and Sue Ann Head Award Winner Announcement

12:15 PM - 1:30 PM in Oakleigh

Fred Baker

Case Law Update

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM in Mirabella F-J

Introduction by Anna Mueller, Mediation Specialist, Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
Presenter: Fred Baker, Attorney, Wimberly, Lawson, Wright, Daves, & Jones 

In 2013, Tennessee’s workers’ compensation law underwent fundamental reforms.  As a result of those reforms, workers’ compensation cases are now initially decided by the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims, and those decisions are appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.  In this session, attendees will learn about significant cases that have been decided in the last twelve months pursuant to the 2013 reforms, including how those cases may have changed the interpretation and application of the law, and will gain insight into what the participants in the workers’ compensation system may expect as we move into the future. 

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Networking Break

2:45 PM - 3:15 PM in Mirabella A-E

Visit exhibitors.

Tuesday Breakout Sessions

3:15 PM – 4:30 PM

Managing a Pandemic in the Workplace with No Rules
3:15 PM – 4:30 PM in Mirabella F

Suggested audience: Adjusters, Employers, Case Managers, Medical Providers

Introduction by Jay Blaisdell, MIR Registry Program Coordinator, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
Panelist:  Teresa Overton, Vanderbilt

If you were like most people, your workers’ compensation claims handling staff were not prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.  How do you protect your employees?  Can you require vaccinations?  How do you determine compensability if a staff member gets sick?  This presentation will be based on a large employer’s efforts and the purpose of the presentation is to help Employers/Adjusters manage their claims better if there should be another pandemic in the future. 

Information covered will include:

  • What is Covid-19 is and when were the first confirmed cases
  • What safety precautions were put into place to try and prevent the spread of Covid-19 at VUMC. 
  • The presenter will also discuss how compensability was determined with contract tracing and providing panels and will provide information on how returning Employees to light duty made a difference. 

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Headshots of all five speakers

What Non-Lawyers Can Tell Lawyers and Judges About Legal and Judicial Ethics
3:15 – 4:30 PM in Mirabella G-J 

Suggested audience: Attorneys, Mediators

Introduction by Hon. Deana Seymour, Judge, Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims
Panelists:  Reverend Dr. Kristine Blaess, Rector, St. Paul’s Church
Dr. Matt Hearn, Professor of English, Lipscomb University
David Rubio, Director of Student Ministries, Otter Creek Church of Christ
Sandy Garrett, Chief Disciplinary Counsel, Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility
Marshall L. Davidson, III, Disciplinary Counsel, Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct

In this session, a panel of non-lawyers, including the rector of a congregation, a youth minister, and a college professor, will give their thoughts on factual scenarios that implicate ethical dilemmas for lawyers and judges.  The panelists will discuss their thoughts on whether the described conduct is or is not ethical under described circumstances.  After the panel speaks, Sandy Garrett, Chief Disciplinary Counsel for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, and Marshall Davidson, Disciplinary Counsel for the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct, will analyze the scenarios under the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Code of Judicial Conduct, and applicable caselaw.

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Marsha Wood

Onboarding and Injury Prevention in Manufacturing
3:15 PM – 4:30 PM in Oakleigh

Suggested audience: Employers, Adjusters

Introduction by Tina Barbee, Program Coordinator, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
Presenter:  Marsha Wood, Volkswagen

Onboarding employees is a critical part in a company’s success, especially in a manufacturing setting. From a new hire post-job offer physical to ensuring someone is physically fit for repetitive work, to preventing injuries, we will discuss programs that are viable in supporting industrial athletes in the workplace.  You will learn onboarding techniques, concepts around job placement programming, how to condition employees for stamina, as well as programs that can prevent injuries.

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4:30 PM


7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Wednesday Breakout Sessions

8:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Laura Roberts and David Price

Case Management Ethics
8:00 AM – 9:15 AM in Mirabella F

Suggested audience: Case Managers, Medical Providers, Adjusters, Employers

Moderated by:  Lacy Conner, Case Manager Coordinator, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
Presenters:  David Price, General Counsel & Director of Government Affairs, Preferred Medical
Laura Roberts, TN, CCM, Case Management Manager, CorVel Corporation  

In the world of ethics, clear solutions do not always exist for the dilemmas we face.   Case managers are not strangers to ethical dilemmas.   Every day, case managers are faced with ethical decision making. Navigating through possible solutions can be a tiring process.  Whether it is an access to care issue, a complaint, or communication with an upset injured worker or other party, the ability to gracefully find a solution to the dilemma is dependent upon the ability to look at the whole picture and think critically, while remembering what worked in one situation may not necessarily work in this situation.  This session will examine the ethical dilemmas that Nurse Case Managers face on a daily basis and discuss how to face them ethically.

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J. E. "Buddy" Stockwell III

How The Tennessee Lawyers’ Assistance Program Assists Lawyers In Crisis
8:00 AM – 9:15 AM in Mirabella G-J 

Suggested audience: Attorneys, Mediators

Introduction by Hon. Allen Phillips Judge, Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims
Presenter: Buddy Stockwell, Executive Director, Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program

Lawyers and judges are not immune from mental illness, emotional and psychological distress, and substance abuse.  In fact, the stress and pressures of practicing law or sitting on the bench may make lawyers and judges particularly vulnerable to these pitfalls.  When lawyers and judges develop problems, clients and parties before the court may fail to receive the zealous representation or the just, well-reasoned and balanced decisions that justice requires.  The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility offers services and assistance through the Tennessee Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP) to assist lawyers suffering from mental or emotional problems or substance abuse.  Buddy Stockwell is the Executive Director of TLAP and he will present an overview of the services provided by TLAP, discuss how an attorney can access the available services, and inform the audience how TLAP interacts with the disciplinary function of the Board of Professional Responsibility.

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Networking Break

9:15 AM - 9:30 AM in Mirabella A-E

Visit exhibitors.

Headshots of all five speakers

TODAY in Tennessee:  The Workers’ Compensation Review

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM in Mirabella F-J

Introduction by Kourtney Sanders, Mediation Specialist Supervisor, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation 
Presenters: Sarah H. Reisner, Principal, Manier & Herod 
Stephen Karr, Attorney, Flexer Law 
Laurenn S. Disspayne, Principal, Manier & Herod 
Jonathan May, Attorney, Morgan & Morgan 
Jenna Macnair, Associate, Manier & Herod 

This presentation will have a “talk show” format and feel and will include a panel of attorneys representing the Defense side/perspective and the Plaintiff’s side/perspective.  The goal of the presentation is to walk the attendees through the life of a Workers' Compensation Claim from the very beginning of the claim with the focus on with trying to move the claim forward to a reasonable and final conclusion in a timely fashion.  Topics discussed will include: 

  • Beginning of the claim, Recorded statement, documents to be sent to the injured worker
  • Claims investigations and decisions on compensability
  • Panel requirements and the new medical panel with Telehealth option
  • Denial of claims, filing Notice of Denial, C23 Form
  • Wage statement and average weekly wage calculations- when are weeks included? What constitutes earnings?
  • TTD/TPD benefits
  • Settlement of Initial Benefits
  • Enhanced Benefits – how do we calculate?
  • Penalties and why would an Employer be referred for penalties? When would Plaintiff’s counsel be referred for penalties? What are grounds for referral? Who decided if penalties are appropriate? What is the dollar range of penalties assessed?
  • What do you do when claims are reassigned?
  • How to avoid a Workers' Compensation Claim turning into and EEOC charge and/or protracted Employment litigation

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Stand Alone Work-Related Mental Injuries 

10:30 AM - 11:45 AM in Mirabella F-J

Introduction by:  Dawn Schwartz, Program Coordinator, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation 
Presenters: Stephen Heard, Attorney, Cornelius & Collins, LLP  

This session is designed to inform the attendees as to the differences in compensable mental injuries that occur in conjunction with physical injuries as opposed to those mental injuries that occur in the absence of physical injury.  Those “stand alone” mental injuries have very specific requirements as provided by TCA 50-6-102, 50-6-204 (a)(1)(A), (b)(1) and (h) AND, most importantly, case law interpreting same.  The nature of the mental injury and its genesis are important factors as is the nature of the employment itself and the injured employee’s role in said employment. As will be illustrated, it is possible that a diagnosed psychiatric condition purportedly caused by a worker’s employment is, in fact, not compensable.  The reasons why will be explored.

The session will review several real-life case scenarios (actual factual situations) to illustrate the components of a work-related mental injury, both with and without physical injury and the application of existing law as to what makes such mental injury cases compensable, or not. 

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Abbie Hudgens

Closing Comments

11:45 AM - 12:00 PM  in Mirabella F-J

Abbie Hudgens, Administrator, Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation 



12:00 PM

Administrator Hudgens' Retirement Lunch

12:30 PM in Oakleigh

 Separate Ticketed Event

This Page Last Updated: November 29, 2022 at 9:45 AM