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Flowers v. Crown Cork & Seal USA, Inc.

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

April 17, 2014

LEVON FLOWERS
v.
CROWN CORK & SEAL USA, INC., PACIFIC EMPLOYERS INSURANCE COMPANY, THE TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY, AND AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SOUTH INSURANCE COMPANY

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PANOLA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/13/2011. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JAMES McCLURE, III. TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: LAWRENCE J. HAKIM, CHARLIE BAGLAN, ROBERT R. STEPHENSON, JR., JOSEPH T. WILKINS, III, CASEY DALE YOUNGER.

FOR APPELLANT: CHARLIE BAGLAN, LAWRENCE J. HAKIM.

FOR APPELLEE: ROBERT R. STEPHENSON, JR., JOSEPH T. WILKINS, III, CASEY DALE YOUNGER.

WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE. DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., LAMAR, KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE, KING AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 189

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WORKERS' COMPENSATION

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI

WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE:

[¶1] The instant case arises out of a workers' compensation claim by Levon Flowers against his former employer Crown Cork & Seal USA. We granted Crown's petition for writ of certiorari to review the compensability of a foot injury Flowers sustained in 2007. The Workers' Compensation Commission denied Flowers's request for permanent disability benefits for this injury and awarded temporary total disability benefits for the period between the injury and the date Flowers was cleared by his doctor to return to work.[1] The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that Flowers was entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits until he reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) for his foot injury, which had not yet been determined by his doctors. Flowers v. Crown Cork & Seal USA, No. 2011-WC-01552-COA, 2013 WL 3185999 (Miss. Ct.App. June 25, 2013). We find that the Court of Appeals reached the correct result in this case, but we reach that conclusion based on different precedent.

FACTS

[¶2] In August 2007, Dr. Chris Varva diagnosed Flowers with a foot injury (ganglion

Page 190

cyst and bone spurring). After examining Flowers in October 2007, Dr. Varva advised him to take a six-week leave of absence from work. After four weeks away from his job, Flowers returned to Dr. Varva asking if he could return to work. Dr. Varva released Flowers to return to work on December 3, 2007, against his own recommendations. Dr. Varva continued to opine that returning to work would put Flowers at a greater risk of injury or re-injury.

[¶3] Flowers also sought treatment from Dr. Chad Webster for his foot injury. On January 14, 2008, after fitting Flowers with a custom orthotic brace, Dr. Webster wrote a letter to Crown stating that Flowers could return to work without restrictions if he wore his brace. Dr. Webster did not feel that Flowers had reached MMI as of this date, but he hoped that the brace would help him succeed in returning to work.

[¶4] Prior to returning to work, Flowers was examined by Morris Selby, a vocational rehabilitation specialist, at Crown's request. Selby described Flowers's job as one that would be physically stressful even for a healthy person. Selby opined that a person with Flowers's injuries would have difficulty performing that type of work. Selby also believed that Flowers was at a disadvantage for ...


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