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Cook v. Neshoba County Gen. Hosp.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 20, 2014

ROBERT COOK, APPELLANT
v.
NESHOBA COUNTY GENERAL HOSPITAL AND MISSISSIPPI HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION PUBLIC WORKERS' COMPENSATION GROUP, APPELLEES

TRIBUNAL FROM WHICH APPEALED: MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/24/2013. TRIBUNAL AFFIRMED ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE'S ORDER DISMISSING APPELLANT'S CLAIM WITH PREJUDICE.

FOR APPELLANT: CHRISTOPHER HEDERI NEYLAND.

FOR APPELLEES: ANDREW D. SWEAT, JENNIFER HUGHES SCOTT.

BEFORE IRVING, P.J., ROBERTS AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., CONCURS IN PART WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.

OPINION

Page 132

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WORKERS' COMPENSATION

IRVING, P.J.

¶1. This appeal arises out of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission's order affirming an administrative judge's (AJ) order that dismissed Robert Cook's workers' compensation claim with prejudice. Feeling aggrieved, Cook appeals and argues that the Commission erred in dismissing his claim because it lacked jurisdiction to do so and because Rule 7 of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission Procedural Rules allows a claimant's absence from a scheduled hearing.

¶2. Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS

¶3. On November 23, 2009, Cook filed a petition to controvert with the Commission. Cook alleged that while working as a security guard for Neshoba County General Hospital, he was running to assist with a disturbance and subsequently slipped and landed on his hands and knees. Cook stated that he injured his left knee and his lower back and that although medical treatment had been furnished by his employer previously, medical treatment was not being furnished at the time he filed his petition.

¶4. On April 17, 2012, the AJ issued an order dismissing Cook's claim due to Cook's failure to file a complete prehearing statement. The order stated that the dismissal would become final unless, pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 71-3-47 (Rev. 2011), Cook filed a written request for review of the order within twenty days. The order further stated that in order to properly request reinstatement of his claim, Cook must timely file a motion to reinstate and attach a complete prehearing statement to the motion.

¶5. On May 3, 2012, Cook filed a motion to reinstate the claim, asserting that he had filed and completed a prehearing statement. On June 1, 2012, the AJ issued an order reinstating Cook's claim. Thereafter, the Commission set the hearing on Cook's claim for August 17, 2012. However, due to a witness's family emergency, the Commission reset the hearing for October 19, 2012.

¶6. Cook failed to appear at the October 19, 2012 hearing, and the hospital and its workers' compensation carrier, Mississippi Hospital Association Public Workers' Compensation Group, moved to dismiss the claim, arguing that Cook had proper notice of the hearing date and did not contact anyone to give a reason for his absence. Cook's counsel advised that he had communicated with Cook once after the hearing was set for October 19, 2012, and that Cook had told him that he had been involved in a serious automobile accident and had undergone brain surgery. Counsel for the hospital and its carrier informed the AJ that they had not received any documentation regarding Cook's brain injury. Counsel for the hospital and its carrier also informed the AJ that Cook's counsel attempted to call ...


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