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Johnson v. Sysco Food Services

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 24, 2013

Joseph Dewayne JOHNSON, Appellant
v.
SYSCO FOOD SERVICES and New Hampshire Insurance Company, Appellees.

Page 160

Carlos Eugene Moore, Tangala Laniece Hollis, Grenada, attorneys for appellant.

Jefferson Pinckney W. Skelton, Pamela S. Ratliff, Ridgeland, attorneys for appellees.

Before LEE, C.J., MAXWELL and FAIR, JJ.

LEE, C.J.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 1. Joseph Dewayne Johnson filed a petition to controvert with the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) on August 14, 2008, alleging he sustained a work-related injury to his knees on March 14, 2008. Johnson's employer, Sysco Food Services (Sysco), and its carrier, New Hampshire Insurance Company, denied compensability. After a hearing, the administrative judge (AJ) denied benefits, finding insufficient proof to establish a causal connection between Johnson's injury and employment. The full Commission affirmed the AJ's order denying benefits.

¶ 2. Johnson now appeals, asserting the Commission erred in denying him workers' compensation benefits.

FACTS

¶ 3. Johnson was a delivery-truck operator with Sysco. Johnson testified that on March 14, 2008, he was walking down the ramp of the delivery truck and began suffering pain in his knees. Johnson did admit that his knees had begun hurting in

Page 161

February 2008 and had steadily worsened. Johnson attempted to correct the situation with knee braces and over-the-counter medicine. After suffering the pain in his knees on March 14, Johnson sought treatment the following day at th Central Mississippi Medical Center (CMMC) emergency department. According to hospital records, Johnson presented with right-knee pain, which he stated had begun two weeks prior when he was running. Johnson denied any history of trauma to his right knee. The records do not contain any mention by Johnson of left-knee pain or injury.

¶ 4. Dr. Gary McCarthy, an orthopedic surgeon, examined Johnson on March 31, 2008. Dr. McCarthy diagnosed Johnson with internal derangement of his right knee. A scan of Johnson's right knee revealed a medial meniscus tear. Dr. McCarthy opined that based on Johnson's description of the injury and his work duties, Johnson's right-knee injury was " most likely" work related. Dr. McCarthy could not state whether Johnson's left-knee injury was work related. Johnson's final appointment with Dr. McCarthy was May 9, 2008.

¶ 5. Dr. Howard T. Katz, a physiatrist, conducted an independent medical evaluation of Johnson on July 13, 2009. Dr. Katz noted " there has been no specific injury to [Johnson's] right or left knee that is documented well in the medical records," but " [b]ased on the history by [Johnson,] he injured his knees in early 2008 at work." Dr. Katz opined Johnson had reached maximum medical improvement for both knees. Dr. Katz assigned Johnson's right knee a one percent impairment rating and his left knee a zero percent impairment rating.

¶ 6. Johnson was also examined by Dr. David Gandy, an orthopedic surgeon, on May 5, 2010. Dr. Gandy initially believed Johnson suffered a work-related injury to his right knee but not his left knee. After reviewing all of Johnson's medical records, Dr. Gandy amended his opinion to conclude that Johnson's right-knee injury was not work related. Dr. Gandy stated it was " not within a reasonable ...


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