TRIBUNAL FROM WHICH APPEALED: MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/14/2014. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: DENIED PERMANENT DISABILITY BENEFITS TO CLAIMANT.
FOR APPELLANT: BRETT ANDREW FERGUSON, JAMES MICHAEL TRAYLOR.
FOR APPELLEE: J. ANDREW HUGHES.
BEFORE IRVING, P.J., ROBERTS AND MAXWELL, JJ. LEE, C.J., GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WORKERS' COMPENSATION
[¶1] Isaac Parker appeals the decision of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission), which held that Parker did not suffer a loss of industrial use due to a work-related injury, and, therefore, was not entitled to permanent disability benefits.
[¶2] Finding no reversible error, we affirm.
[¶3] On March 23, 2011, while assembling wooden furniture frames at an Ashley Furniture assembly plant, Isaac felt a sharp pain in his hands. Isaac reported his pain to the plant nurse and his supervisor. The nurse scheduled Isaac an appointment with a medical group in New Albany, Mississippi. After seeing the physician at the medical group, Isaac told the plant nurse he would rather see Dr. Samuel Creekmore and the nurse approved. Dr. Creekmore subsequently sent Isaac to see Dr. Johnny Mitias, an orthopaedic surgeon at Ortho One. Isaac underwent a nerve study, which revealed that he suffered from work-related bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Mitias performed a
bilateral carpal tunnel release, on July 13, 2011. Post surgery, Dr. Mitias prescribed physical therapy and braces.
[¶4] Isaac claimed that the surgery did not help his pain. Dr. Mitias recommended that Isaac remain off work. At an office visit on August 25, 2011, according to his medical notes, Dr. Mitias released Issac to return to light-duty work with a weight-lifting restriction of nothing greater than five pounds. Ashley Furniture placed Isaac on light duty, but Isaac continued to complain to the nurse that pain in his hand made it hard for him to perform his job. At his September 13, 2011 visit, Dr. Mitias continued Isaac's physical therapy three times a week for two more weeks, and changed the weight restriction from five to ten pounds. On October 6, 2011, Dr. Mitias continued the work-hardening process, and increased Isaac's lifting restriction to fifteen pounds. Dr. Mitias further ordered Isaac to go to Baptist Memorial Hospital for an XRTS test to determine if Isaac's complaints were valid. According to the XRTS report, Isaac had magnified the severity of his symptoms. Dr. Mitias referred Isaac to Dr. Cooper Terry for a second opinion.
[¶5] According to his medical records, Dr. Terry evaluated Isaac on November 7, 2011, and concluded that Dr. Mitias' treatment was appropriate with respect to Isaac's condition. Dr. Terry's notes also indicate that he informed Isaac that it could take up to six months for the scar tenderness to resolve and for full-grip strength to return. Based on the XRTS results, Dr. Terry did not see a need for any work restrictions. At Isaac's last visit with Dr. Mitias, on December 13, 2011, Dr. Mitias released Isaac to regular-duty work with no restrictions, and placed him on maximum medical improvement with a 3% impairment rating to each hand. Isaac testified that, even though he was released to regular duty, he had complained to the plant nurse of continued pain in his hand. Isaac's employment with Ashley Furniture ended on January 2, 2012. A few months after leaving Ashley Furniture, Isaac obtained part-time work at Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) as a cook. Isaac returned to Dr. Creekmore with the same symptoms. This time, Dr. Creekmore referred Isaac to Dr. Mohammed Akbik. Dr. Akbik ...