TRIBUNAL FROM WHICH APPEALED: MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/07/2013. TRIBUNAL DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED IN PART; REVERSED AND REMANDED IN PART; VACATED IN PART.
FOR APPELLANT: FRANK H. SHAW JR.
FOR APPELLEES: R. BRITTAIN VIRDEN.
BEFORE IRVING, P.J., CARLTON, AND MAXWELL, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WORKERS' COMPENSATION
¶1. This appeal stems from two workers' compensation claims filed by Yvonne Lovett: one arising out of a slip-and-fall injury occurring on March 8, 2006, and a second incident, seven months after Lovett
returned to work, where she suffered a stroke allegedly caused by her employment. The cases were consolidated by order of the administrative judge (AJ).
¶2. After a hearing on the merits, the AJ found: (1) Lovett suffered a thirty percent loss of wage-earning capacity due to her slip-and-fall injury; (2) her stroke incident was non-compensable; (3) her medical treatments by Dr. Vaishali Shah and Dr. Abdel Aziz, as well as her evaluation by psychiatrist Dr. Chester Jenkins, were within the chain of referral and thus the financial obligation of her employer, Delta Regional Medical Center, and its insurance carrier; and (4) Lovett's medical treatments by her neurologist, Dr. Ravi Pande, were not for any conditions caused by her work-related injuries.
¶3. Delta Regional appealed the AJ's order to the full Workers' Compensation Commission, which reversed the order of the AJ. The Commission held that: (1) Lovett failed to establish a loss of wage-earning capacity due to her slip-and-fall injury; and (2) that her medical treatments by Dr. Aziz, Dr. Shah, and Dr. Jenkins were outside of the chain of referral. The Commission affirmed the AJ's finding that Lovett's second claim, stemming from her stroke, was non-compensable. Lovett now appeals, arguing that the Commission erred by denying permanent disability benefits to Lovett. In finding the Commission's decision not to be against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, but rather supported by the substantial evidence in the record, we affirm the Commission's findings.
¶4. On March 8, 2006, Yvonne Lovett slipped and fell in the hallway of Delta Regional Medical Center, resulting in injuries to her back and her right knee. Lovett worked at Delta Regional as a security guard. Her duties consisted of securing the premises and serving as law enforcement while on the hospital grounds. Lovett's injuries occurred while performing her usual duties. On the date of her injuries, Lovett claims, the hallway floor had been mopped, but no " Wet Floor" signs were posted to alert her or other hospital patients and visitors.
¶5. As a result of her injuries, Lovett received treatment from chiropractor Dr. Harry Dorsey, as well as from Dr. Greg Gober and Dr. Allen Thompson, her family doctor. Lovett's medical treatment was approved by Delta Regional's workers's compensation carrier. Dr. Thompson referred Lovett to Dr. Jack Moriarity, a neurosurgeon in Jackson, Mississippi, who performed a microlumbar discectomy on June 16, 2006, also approved by the workers's compensation carrier. Dr. Moriarity then referred Lovett to an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Walter Shelton, for her knee injury. Dr. Shelton performed a surgical repair of her right medial meniscus tear on August 14, 2006. Dr. Moriarity also referred Lovett to Dr. Rahul Vohra, a physical-medicine specialist who treated her for back and knee pain. Dr. Vohra determined that Lovett's date of maximum medical improvement (MMI) was November 28, 2006. Delta Regional paid for Lovett's medical treatments and disability benefits resulting from her injury, until she returned to work.
¶6. After the March 8, 2006 injury, Lovett returned to work on October 11, 2006, and continued working through April 28, 2007, implementing physical-work restrictions recommended by her doctors but still complaining of knee pain. At a hospital staff meeting on April 23, 2007, Lovett felt that she had been singled out for criticism of her job duties. Lovett testified that after the meeting, her supervisor
sent her home to be off work until they called her.
¶7. Lovett returned to full duty to work on the late shift Friday night, April 28, 2007. During this shift, Lovett sought treatment in the hospital emergency room, complaining of dizziness and left-arm weakness. Lovett was treated ...