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Adams v. Lemuria Inc.

March 09, 1999

KATHERINE A. ADAMS APPELLANT
v.
LEMURIA, INC., A MEMBER OF THE MUBA APPELLEE SELF-INSURERS' FUND



Before Bridges, C.j., Diaz, Payne, And Southwick, JJ.

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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/2/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. W. SWAN YERGER

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WORKERS' COMPENSATION

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED THE FULL COMMISSION'S DENIAL OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION BENEFITS

¶1. Katherine Ann Adams, the claimant, appeals the decision of the First Judicial District of Hinds County Circuit Court affirming the Workers' Compensation Commission and the administrative law Judge's decision to deny her compensation. Adams seeks to recover medical costs and temporary total disability benefits as a result of being kidnapped by an unknown assailant in the parking lot of her employmer. We find that there was substantial evidence presented upon which the Full Commission could find that Adams was entitled to benefits and medical costs. Therefore, we reverse the ruling of the circuit court.

FACTS

¶2. Adams filed a petition to controvert a workers' compensation claim on August 1, 1995. Therein, Adams claimed that she was entitled to benefits and medical costs arising from injuries she sustained as a result of being kidnapped at gunpoint from the parking lot of her employer and her escape from the moving vehicle in which she was abducted. Lemuria, Inc., and the MUBA Self-Insurers' Fund, the employer and carrier, filed an answer on September 7, 1995, disputing the payment of any benefits or medical costs to claimant.

¶3. Adams, a manager, book buyer, and retail sales person for Lemuria, Inc., a bookstore located in Banner Hall in Jackson, Mississippi, was the victim of a kidnapping from the parking lot of Banner Hall on the morning of June 22, 1995. After she collected her things and emerged from her car, she was attacked by an unknown man who put a gun to her head and directed her to get back in the car. He forced her to get down on the floor board of the car and asked for her money. The unknown assailant then started the car and drove out of the parking lot. As the her kidnapper was driving her car and holding her at gun point, Adams managed to escape by jumping from the moving vehicle causing a serious and permanent injury to her right ankle.

¶4. Adams was taken by another motorist to St. Dominic Hospital where she was admitted and treated for injuries which included cuts on her left hand, a hole and abrasions on her left arm, pavement burns on her back, and a crushed ankle joint. Additionally, Adams sought psychiatric counseling after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Because of these injuries and subsequent surgery, Adams did not return to work for five months although she was paid her salary until March 1, 1996. At that point, she only worked part-time.

¶5. As an exhibit to her testimony in the administrative hearing, Adams introduced the lease agreement between Lemuria and Terps, Ltd., the company that owns Banner Hall. The lease agreement provided that the use of the tenant of the leased premises included a revocable license to use the common areas including the parking areas, streets, sidewalks, walk ways, etc. Lemuria contends that Adams' injury did not occur on their property because it only maintained a license to use the parking lot and did not own it. Additionally, Lemuria claims that as a tenant of Banner Hall which attracts "the higher elements of our society" that it did not know that the parking lot was unsafe.

ΒΆ6. On July 11, 1996, the administrative law Judge denied Adams benefits and medical costs and held that the assault was not a result of her employment with Lemuria because it did not occur on Lemuria's property. Thereafter, the Full Commission affirmed the administrative Judge's order in toto. In December 1997, the First Judicial District of the Hinds ...


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