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Blackwell v. Howard Industries, Inc

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 5, 2015

CARDIE BLACKWELL A/K/A CARDIE B. BLACKWELL APPELLANT
v.
HOWARD INDUSTRIES, INC. APPELLEE

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/06/2014.

JONES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. BILLY JOE LANDRUM.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: WILLIAM H. JONES.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: DOUGLAS S. BOONE PARKER FORD LEGGETT.

BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ROBERTS AND FAIR, JJ.

ROBERTS, J.

¶1. The Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission denied Cardie Blackwell's request for permanent disability benefits. Blackwell appealed to the Jones County Circuit Court. For the second time, the circuit court has dismissed Blackwell's appeal based on technical deficiencies. To be precise, the circuit court held that Blackwell's notice of appeal inadequately set forth the grounds of his appeal. Consequently, the circuit court struck Blackwell's initial brief and his reply brief. We find that the circuit court erred. Accordingly, we reverse the circuit court's judgment and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. Blackwell was working for Howard Industries Inc. (Howard) when he sustained a work-related injury to his left elbow. He received temporary total disability benefits, and Howard paid for Blackwell's surgical procedure. After a disagreement regarding his treatment, Blackwell filed a petition to controvert. Blackwell and Howard exchanged volleys of pleadings and motions between 2003 and 2007.

¶3. The administrative judge (AJ) found that Blackwell was not entitled to permanent and total disability benefits. Blackwell appealed, and the full Commission affirmed the AJ's judgment. In October 2009, Blackwell appealed to the circuit court. Howard successfully moved to dismiss Blackwell's appeal because he never filed a brief with the circuit court. The circuit court issued a deficiency notice and gave Blackwell fourteen days to file a brief. After Blackwell filed a brief that did not conform to Rule 28(a) of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure, Howard successfully moved to dismiss Blackwell's appeal.

¶4. Blackwell appealed to this Court, and we held that "a second notice of deficiency should have been sent to Blackwell and that lesser sanctions, rather than dismissal, would have been appropriate." Blackwell v. Howard Indus. Inc., 98 So.3d 463, 465 (¶6) (Miss. Ct. App. 2012). Consequently, we reversed the circuit court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. Id.

¶5. On remand, Howard filed a motion to strike Blackwell's briefs. According to Howard, Blackwell's briefs failed to comply with Rule 11 of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission's Procedural Rules. Howard also moved to strike Blackwell's reference to an internet article on the basis that it was "inadmissible hearsay [and] irrelevant, [it] lack[ed a] proper foundation, [and it could not] be authenticated."

ΒΆ6. The circuit court agreed with both of Howard's claims. In its order, the circuit court found that Blackwell's notice of appeal did not reference the issues that Blackwell raised in his brief. The circuit court granted Howard's motion to strike Blackwell's briefs. In addition to the internet article that Howard moved to strike, the circuit court struck four other "internet articles and texts" that Blackwell attached as exhibits to his reply brief. After the ...


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