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Sunbeam/Oster Co. v. Bolden

October 13, 1998

SUNBEAM/OSTER COMPANY, INC. AND APPELLANTS INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
HELEN BOLDEN APPELLEE



Before Bridges, C.j., Coleman, And Herring, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herring, J.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/15/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. HENRY LAFAYETTE LACKEY

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MARSHALL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WORKERS' COMPENSATION

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED THE DECISION OF THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION

DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 10/13/98

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:

CERTIORARI FILED:

MANDATE ISSUED:

¶1. Sunbeam/Oster Company, Inc. and its carrier, Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (hereafter referred to either individually or collectively as Sunbeam), appeals from a decision of the Circuit Court of Marshall County, Mississippi, which affirmed the decision of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission (hereafter Commission). The Commission granted benefits for total and permanent disability as a result of an injury sustained in the workplace by Helen Bolden. The Commission based the decision upon its determination that Bolden was permanently and totally disabled pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-17(a) (Rev. 1995) and overruled the order of the administrative law Judge, who awarded benefits based upon a finding that Bolden was permanently partially disabled pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 73-3-17(25) (Rev. 1995). We affirm.

I. FACTS

¶2. This matter was heard before an administrative law Judge on July 12, 1995, at 1:00 p.m. at the Marshall County Courthouse located in Holly Springs, Mississippi. After hearing and reviewing the evidence, the administrative law Judge, on October 30, 1995, ordered the employer/carrier to pay benefits as follows:

1. Temporary total disability benefits in the amount of $227.18 per week commencing on October 25, 1993 through January 18, 1995, with proper credit to be given for any benefits, monies or wages previously paid to the claimant;

2. Permanent partial disability benefits in the amount of $104.80 per week commencing on January 19, 1995 and continuing for the statutory maximum of 450 weeks pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 71-3-17(25) (1972);

3. Penalties and interest, if applicable, pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 71-3-37(5) (1972);

4. Provide medical services and benefits as required by the nature of the claimant's injury and the process of her recovery therefrom pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 71-3-15 (1972).

¶3. Sunbeam appealed this decision to the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission which heard the matter on September 30, 1996. On December 3, 1996, the Commission entered its order stating:

The Order of Administrative Judge dated October 30, 1995 is reversed accordingly, and the Employer and Carrier are hereby ordered to pay unto Bolden compensation for permanent total disability in the amount of $183.21 *fn1 per week for a period of 450 weeks, commencing on October 25, 1993. The Employer/Carrier may take credit for any disability benefits previously paid. Moreover, the Employer/Carrier are liable for penalties and interest, as provided by law, on any installments of compensation not timely paid.

Finally, the Employer/Carrier are also obligated to provide Bolden with whatever medical treatment and supplies which are required by the nature of her injury and the process of her recovery, subject to the requirements of Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-15 (Rev. 1995) and the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Medical Fee Schedule.

¶4. Sunbeam timely filed its notice of appeal to the Circuit Court of Marshall County, Mississippi. The circuit court affirmed the Commission's decision and Sunbeam appealed to this Court.

¶5. At the hearing, Helen Bolden testified that she was born on January 3, 1937, in Marshall County, Mississippi; that she attended public school in Slayden, Mississippi; and that she completed the eighth grade. She received no additional education, although at the time of the hearing before the administrative law Judge, she was attending classes to obtain her G.E.D. Prior to 1983, Bolden was busy raising and caring for her children. In 1983 and 1984, she worked as a waitress but left that employment to go to work for Sunbeam in 1985. She worked for Sunbeam at its plant in Holly Springs until the plant closed in 1995. While working at Sunbeam, Bolden held various assembly line positions. She worked on the "hotshot line," the "fry pan line," the "toaster line," operated a press which made labels, and packaged various products assembled at Sunbeam. On October 25, 1993, at approximately 1:20 p.m., Bolden was working in the course and scope of her employment at Sunbeam when she fell over a platform and fractured her wrist.

¶6. Bolden was treated for her injury by Dr. Monaghan who saw her several times and then referred her to Dr. Calandruccio, an orthopaedic surgeon in Southaven, Mississippi, who first saw Bolden on November 3, 1993. Two days later on November 5, 1993, Dr. Calandruccio performed surgery on Bolden's wrist. The nature of Bolden's injury required a realignment of the bones, as well as the use of pins and an external fixator to maintain proper bone alignment. On December 10, 1993, the pins were removed and the external fixator was removed on December 22, 1993. Dr. Calandruccio released Bolden to return to work on March 17, 1994, with the restriction that she wear a wrist splint and that she be placed on a zero to ten pound weight limit during the course of her duties.

¶7. Dr. Calandruccio next saw Bolden on April 27, 1994. On this occasion, Bolden complained that she was having trouble picking up screws, lifting heavy objects, and was experiencing pain. Dr. Calandruccio's examination showed limited wrist motion, as well as limited forearm rotation, and x-rays demonstrated degenerative changes at her wrist level. Dr. Calandruccio released her to return to work, and Bolden continued to wear her splint while on the job. He next saw her on June 22, 1994. At that time, Bolden was continuing to have problems doing assembly line work with products which weighed approximately three pounds. According to the record, she had problems with fine manipulation, she was tender in her wrist area, and she had marked limitation when she attempted to make a fist. Dr. Calandruccio gave her an injection at the base of the thumb and scheduled her for electrical studies. She was again released for light duty.

ΒΆ8. On June 27, 1994, Bolden underwent a second surgery which included treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Calandruicco testified that the inability to do fine manipulation or to pick up small objects, was a "critical manifestation of this particular problem," (carpal tunnel syndrome) and that the carpal tunnel syndrome was a result of the injury she sustained at Sunbeam. Thereafter Dr. Calandruccio saw Bolden on July 20, 1994, August 17, 1994, and September 7, 1994. On September 7, 1994, Dr. Calandruccio noted that Bolden was still complaining of pain in her right upper extremity, and he placed her in a padded ...


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