DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/26/2013
PRENTISS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. PAUL S. FUNDERBURK
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ROY O. PARKER JR.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: WILLIAM P. MYERS MARK N. HALBERT
BEFORE LEE, C.J., ISHEE AND FAIR, JJ.
¶1. Bobby Lott sustained an eye injury while working at Corinthian Inc. in January 2010. He was later terminated by Corinthian for failing to follow the proper procedures for reporting a work-related injury. Shortly thereafter, he filed a workers' compensation claim against Corinthian alleging that he was terminated in bad faith and that all Appellees failed to conduct a good-faith investigation into his claim. The Appellees continued their investigation, and Lott was seen by several doctors over the next few months. Ultimately, Corinthian paid workers' compensation benefits due from the date of injury until Lott was released back to work. An administrative judge (AJ) with the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission determined that the benefits paid were sufficient and that Lott's termination was not executed in bad faith, nor was the investigation conducted in bad faith. Lott later filed suit in the Prentiss County Circuit Court alleging wrongful termination, gross negligence, and intentional and willful infliction of emotional distress. The Appellees filed motions for summary judgment, which were granted. Aggrieved, Lott appeals. Finding no error, we affirm.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
¶2. On January 18, 2010, Lott was employed by Corinthian as an at-will employee in the upholstery department. Specifically, Lott was working with upholstered ottomans assembling the legs onto the ottomans. On that day, Lott claims that one of the legs ricocheted and hit him in his right eye while he was attempting to secure the leg into the furniture. Lott immediately asked two nearby coworkers if his eye was injured. Lott claims that he also advised Tracy Wren of the injury shortly thereafter. Lott maintains that Wren is his "lead supervisor, " while Corinthian identifies her as a "floater on the production line." Lott claims that he had been told by Michael Lambert, supervisor over the upholstery department at Corinthian, to report any incident or injury to Wren. Corinthian and Lambert deny this fact. Regardless, when asked on forms to list his supervisor, Lott repeatedly listed Lambert.
¶3. In Corinthian's employee handbook, it advised its workers that they were to report all injuries to their supervisor on the day an incident occurred. Failure to do so is listed in the handbook as a ground for termination. The handbook also states that by clocking out, an employee certifies that he has reported any injuries to his supervisor. Lott signed the handbook on his first day of work in 2008, and in doing so he acknowledged that he had read and agreed to all of the terms in the handbook.
¶4. Lott worked the remainder of his shift on the day of the injury and clocked out, and he worked the entirety of his shift the next day, also clocking in and out. On January 20, 2010, Lott claims he awakened with pain and loss of sight in his right eye. Lott again reported his injury to Wren, who sent Lott to speak with Lambert. Lambert advised Lott to meet with Marsha McCollum, a Cannon Cochran Management Services employee. Cannon was under contract with Mississippi Manufacturers Association Workers' Compensation Group (MMA) to serve as the third-party-claims administrator for MMA's members, including Corinthian.
¶5. On January 20, 2010, after speaking with Lott, McCollum made arrangements for Lott to see two eye specialists – Dr. Craig Cleveland and Dr. Tawan S. Khamapirad. McCollum accompanied Lott to the doctor appointments. While in the appointments, she discovered that Lott had previously had cataract surgery on his left eye in 2006 and had been advised to have the same surgery on his right eye in 2007, but he had declined to undergo the surgery. During the appointments, Lott advised the doctors that he had not had any trouble with his right eye since 2007 and had been able to work and live normally until the incident at hand.
¶6. Lott was diagnosed with traumatic cataract, traumatic iritis, and a vitreal bleed to his right eye. He was advised that he needed surgery on the eye as soon as the inflammation subsided. A follow-up appointment was scheduled with Dr. Khamapirad for January 25, 2010. After the follow-up appointment, Dr. Khamapirad restricted Lott's work duties to desk work until the surgery could be performed on his injured eye.
¶7. The summary of Dr. Khamapirad's assessment, including his recommendation for surgery and his restriction of Lott's work duties, was received by Corinthian on January 27, 2010. The next day, Lott was terminated by Corinthian. Corinthian states that it fired Lott because he failed to follow the proper procedure for reporting a work-related injury. Lott claims that he was wrongfully terminated since he had, in fact, reported the injury to Wren. Lott also argues that the firing was done in bad faith because Corinthian could have fired him the day the ...