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ROBERT JOSEPH BARHAM v. KLUMB FOREST PRODUCTS CENTER

AUGUST 15, 1984

ROBERT JOSEPH BARHAM
v.
KLUMB FOREST PRODUCTS CENTER, INC. AND HOME INSURANCE COMPANY



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, DAN LEE AND PRATHER

DAN LEE, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This is an appeal from an order of the Circuit Court of Harrison County affirming an order of the Workmen's Compensation Commission dated June 30, 1981. The order of the Workmen's Compensation Commission affirmed an order of the Administrative Law Judge which granted the claimant, Robert Joseph Barham, temporary total disability from October 1, 1979 through October 9, 1979. Feeling aggrieved by the failure to be awarded any permanent partial disability benefits, Barham now brings this appeal and assigns as error the following:

That the Administrative Judge and Commission erred in finding that Claimant reached maximum medical recovery on October 9, 1979, and that subsequent to October 9, 1979, the Claimant did not suffer any job-related disability or loss of wage-earning capacity, and that the Claimant's present disability is solely the result of his pre-existing underlying disease process.

 Robert Joseph Barham is a 53-year old manual laborer. For approximately ten (10) years prior to October 1, 1979, he had worked for the Klumb Lumber Company. On that date he arrived at work at 7:30 a.m. feeling good. He began picking up metal straps lying around the lumber yard at that time. These are light metal bands used to hold stacks of lumber together. At approximately 9:00 a.m. Barham was instructed to restack a group of 4x4x8 cedar posts. After Barham had been stacking lumber for approximately one-half hour he got a pain in his chest. He stopped work and went to the restroom then came back to stack lumber. At that point the pain increased and was accompanied by a burning sensation in his chest and left arm. He went to the office where he saw his supervisor, Pat Ryan. Ryan told him to rest. The pain worsened and Ryan instructed Barham to go to the hospital. Instead of driving directly to the hospital, he drove to his home a mile and one-half away and had his wife take him to their family physician, Dr. Quigley. Dr.

 Quigley performed some tests and called for an ambulance to take Barham to the hospital. Barham was admitted to the intensive care unit. He stayed in the hospital approximately a week.

 Barham testified that he had not been feeling well since he left the hospital. He has trouble breathing and tires easily. He is unable to walk very far and although he attempted to return to work, he was unable to perform the tasks assigned to him and was laid off.

 Barham stated that he did not have any of the forementioned physical ailments or limitations prior to October 1, 1979 when he became ill at work. Over the last twenty (20) years he has had a problem with fainting but this has never occurred at work. Barham's supervisors, Pat Ryan and Lowery Anderson, corroborated his testimony that he had never been under any physical limitation. Ryan described Barham as "an extremely good employee" and stated he would hire him again if he were able to do the work. Anderson referred to Barham as "very reliable" and testified that he wished all of his workers were as faithful and reliable.

 Dr. Hugo Nievas, a cardiologist, testified by way of deposition. He performed a stress test on Barham on November 14, 1979. Dr. Nievas stated that Barham had no history of heart problems. He diagnosed Barham as having an acute coronary insufficiency. He stated this was closer to a heart attack than mere ischemia alone. The doctor did state though that Barham had not had a heart attack and that there was no permanent damage indicated by a cardiac enzyme test. All changes as a result of a coronary insufficiency are reversible according to Dr. Nievas.

 Dr. Nievas further testified that there was a causal connection between Barham's work and his illness on October 1, 1979. Dr. Nievas said that Barham had a coronary disease and that exertion would cause an imbalance in his oxygen supply. He further stated that Barham's condition may eventually produce a heart attack and that Barham should perform no strenuous physical activity. In Dr. Nievas' opinion Barham may eventually require a by-pass.

 Dr. Nievas concluded that it is possible that Barham had coronary artery disease before October 1, 1979 but that he had not had a heart attack on that date. He again stated that there was no permanent damage to Barham's heart. In Nievas' opinion Barham's employment had nothing to do with his present disability. In his words, Barham

 had fully recovered from acute coronary insufficiency by the time he left the hospital on October 9, 1979. Nonetheless, in his opinion, Barham had physical limitations as a result of the underlying coronary disease.

 Edna Irene Barham, the claimant's wife, testified that the morning of October 1, 1979 when her husband left for work he was feeling good. When he came home from work and told her that he had been told to go to the hospital, he was hot, sweaty and "about to collapse." She testified that now her husband tires easily and is unable to even mow the family lawn. She stated that he had never had these problems before the October 1, 1979 incident at work.

 Barham argues that the administrative law judge and Workmen's Compensation Commission erred in finding that he had reached maximum medical recovery on October 9, 1979, the day he was released from the hospital. He also argues that the findings of fact that he did not suffer any job-related disability or loss of wage earning capacity and that his present disability is solely the result of pre-existing underlying disease were in error. In reviewing questions of fact the standard of review this Court has consistently applied is that where there is substantial evidence to support the order of the Workmen's Compensation Commission, this Court will not disturb its findings of fact. Mississippi Research Development Center v. Dependants of Shults, 287 So. 2d 273 (Miss. 1973); Wiggins v. Knox Glass, Inc., 219 So. 2d 154 (Miss.1969); Merchants Co. v. Moore, 197 So. 2d 791 (Miss. 1967).

 The central issue is whether the facts of this case bring it within the rule of Rathborne, Hair and Ridgeway Box Co. v. Green, 237 Miss. 588, 115 So. 2d 674 (1959). In that case the claimant had suffered an abdominal injury at work. Upon a worsening of his pain, surgery was performed. During surgery it was determined that his spleen was diseased. His physicians testified that the surgery and the injury at work temporarily aggravated the disease. They were uniformly of the opinion that after the claimant's recovery from surgery any further disability was a ...


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