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Department of Agriculture v. Austin

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

November 18, 2014

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND COMMERCE AND MISSISSIPPI STATE AGENCIES WORKERS' COMPENSATION TRUST, APPELLANTS
v.
HUGH K. AUSTIN, APPELLEE

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/17/2014.

TRIBUNAL FROM WHICH APPEALED: MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. TRIBUNAL DISPOSITION: GRANTED WORKERS' COMPENSATION BENEFITS TO THE APPELLEE AND DENIED THE APPELLANTS' MOTION TO CORRECT THE RECORD AND ADMIT ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE.

FOR APPELLANTS: PETER L. CORSON.

FOR APPELLEE: FLOYD E. DOOLITTLE.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., ROBERTS AND CARLTON, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WORKERS' COMPENSATION

Page 995

CARLTON, J.

¶1. Hugh Austin suffered a back injury while employed by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (Department of Agriculture). Austin filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits, which the administrative judge (AJ) granted. The Department of Agriculture and the Mississippi State Agencies Workers' Compensation Trust, the insurance carrier, appealed to the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission). The Commission affirmed the AJ's order finding Austin's claim compensable, and the Department of Agriculture now appeals the Commission's judgment to this Court.

¶2. On appeal, the Department of Agriculture raises the following issues: (1) whether the Commission erred by finding that Austin established a causal connection between his work injury and his subsequent treatment and surgery; and (2) whether the Commission erred by denying the Department of Agriculture's motion to correct the record and admit additional evidence. Upon review, we find that the record contains substantial evidence to support the Commission's decision. We therefore affirm.

FACTS

¶3. In 2001, Austin slipped off a ladder and fell thirty feet. As a result of the fall, Austin injured his hand and leg and began to experience pain in his lower back. Following the incident, Austin saw Dr. Bruce Senter, who performed spinal fusion surgery on Austin in January 2003. After the fusion, Austin continued to receive treatment from Dr. Senter. In April 2003, Dr. Senter released Austin to " go back to pretty much doing what he wants to do, with the exception of any lifting over [thirty] pounds and no long-term repetitive bending and stooping."

¶4. In October 2003, Austin became employed with the Department of Agriculture and began working at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum (Agriculture Museum). In 2007, Austin sought treatment for his back pain from Dr. John Lancon. Dr. Lancon referred Austin to Dr. Gordon Lyons, who gave Austin an injection for his back pain. On September 5, 2009, while working at the Agriculture Museum, Austin picked up a box of tile weighing fifty pounds and experienced pain in his back and legs. Austin reported his injury to Joel Kohler, the Department of Agriculture's payroll officer. On September 21, 2009, Austin again saw Dr. Lyons, who gave Austin injections and referred him to physical therapy. On November 17, 2009, Dr. Lyons reported that Austin had reached maximum medical improvement

Page 996

(MMI) and released Austin to return to work without ...


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