Inability to Link Lifting, Bloody Stools Curbs Walmart Stocker's Case

17 Feb, 2021 Frank Ferreri


Little Rock, AR ( – Doing work that involved lifting more weight than usual and noticing gastrointestinal bleeding shortly thereafter were not enough for an Arkansas worker to show that he experienced a compensable injury.

Instead, the court in Nolen v. Walmart Associates, No. CV-20-441 (Ark. Ct. App. 02/10/21) held that connecting the bloody stools to heavy lifting at work was “speculative” and didn’t satisfy state law requirements for showing that the injury arose out of the worker’s employment.

‘Unusually Heavy’

A night stocker at Walmart was tasked with moving pallets of water, and he described the workload as “unusually heavy.” During his next shift, the stocker was directed to move and stack 55-pound bags of dog food.

Upon going home after the second shift, the stocker experienced “gurgling” in his stomach, went to the bathroom, and noticed blood in his stool. He experienced blood in his stool two more times, and he believed that it was due to an internal injury from moving heavy products at work.

The next time the stocker went to work, he began to fill out workers’ compensation paperwork related to the bloody stool when he felt the urge to use the restroom. While doing so, he passed more blood and fainted. In fainting, he hit is right leg above the knee and cut his head above his eyebrow.

The stocker received treatment at a hospital, and he was directed to stay off work for two days and limited to lifting no more than 25 pounds. During a follow-up appointment, the stocker was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal hemorrhage, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and iron deficiency anemia.

Additional testing could not find the source of the stocker’s gastrointestinal bleeding, and he continued to work with the 25-pound lifting restriction. He filed a claim for temporary total disability benefits, contending that the intestinal bleeding resulted from lifting at work.

The administrative law judge ruled against the stocker, deciding that he did not connect the bleeding with his job duties. The stocker appealed to Arkansas’ Workers’ Compensation Commission, which agreed with the ALJ, prompting the stocker to appeal to court.

Questions about Injury

Under Arkansas law, an injury is “accidental” only if it is caused by a specific incident and is identifiable by the time and place of occurrence. A compensable injury must be established by medical evidence and objective findings.

The court determined that the ALJ’s decision followed from the medical evidence, highlighting that the stocker couldn’t point to a “specific instance while working on his shifts where he felt or experienced a physical manifestation of sustaining an injury while he was at work.”

The stocker’s physicians didn’t relate the bleeding to the stocker’s work duties and the court concluded that the stocker did not show a “correlation between his injury and the cause of the injury.

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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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