June 16, 2015
ERIKA L. FELTER, APPELLANT
FLOORSERV INC. AND THE EMPLOYERS FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY (ONE BEACON INSURANCE), APPELLEES
OF JUDGMENT: 06/20/2014.
TRIBUNAL FROM WHICH APPEALED: MISSISSIPPI WORKERS'
COMPENSATION COMMISSION. TRIBUNAL DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED
ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE'S ORDER THAT APPELLANT NOT ENTITLED
TO ADDITIONAL MEDICAL BENEFITS.
L. FELTER, APPELLANT, Pro se.
APPELLEES: CHADWICK LESTER SHOOK.
GRIFFIS, P.J., ISHEE AND MAXWELL, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING,
P.J., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL, FAIR AND
JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WORKERS'
Erika Felter appeals the decision of the Mississippi
Workers' Compensation Commission denying permanent
disability and additional medical benefits she requested as
part of her workers' compensation judgment. We find no
error and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On March 27, 2006, Felter suffered injuries in a car accident
while working for her employer, FloorServ. On April 1, 2007,
Felter filed a petition to controvert with the Commission.
The administrative judge (AJ) issued an order awarding Felter
compensation through August 30, 2006, when Felter reached her
maximum medical improvement (MMI). Felter then attempted to
appeal the AJ's decision.
This Court previously considered this case. Felter v.
FloorServ Inc. (Felter I), 140 So.3d 431 (Miss. Ct.App.
2012). The Court affirmed the decision of the Commission and
the Adams County Circuit Court, which found Felter's
appeal of the AJ's decision untimely. Id. at 433
We restate the facts and procedural history discussed in the
On the day of the car accident, Felter presented to the
Natchez Regional Medical Center's emergency room. She
complained of pain " all over," with specific
complaints of neck and abdominal pain. Felter underwent an
abdominal and pelvic CT scan and x-rays of her chest,
cervical spine, pelvis, left hip and knee, and lumbar spine.
Felter's CT scans and . . . x-rays showed no
abnormalities, and the medical center released Felter to
Following the accident, Felter saw several other doctors. On
April 2, 2006, Felter presented to Dr. Ibrahim Seki at
Riverpark After Hours Clinic, complaining of severe back
pain. At this visit, Dr. Seki diagnosed Felter with acute
myofascial strain of the lumbar spine and possible
degenerative-disc disease. Felter returned to Dr. Seki for an
MRI of the lumbar spine on April 8, 2006, which showed
minimal changes at the L4-5 and L5-S1 areas. Dr. Seki
ultimately diagnosed Felter with low-back pain and possible
Dr. Seki referred Felter to Dr. Passman at Passman-Haimson
Orthopedic Sports and Rehab. Dr. Passman ordered a second
lumbar MRI, which showed no abnormalities. Dr. Passman
concluded that Felter's " nerves might be the source
of her problems." He also indicated that he did not
believe that Felter needed treatment from an orthopedist or a
neurosurgeon but that she might benefit from treatment from a
On her own accord, Felter presented to Dr. J. H. Fairbanks.
Dr. Fairbanks diagnosed Felter with thoracic strain and
possible sciatica. He also recommended that she attend
physical therapy sessions and ordered an MRI of her thoracic
spine. Ultimately, Dr. Fairbanks concluded that Felter was
temporarily totally disabled. However, he noted that
Felter's MRI did not indicate the need for surgical
intervention, and he
determined that she had reached MMI on June 21, 2006. Dr.
Fairbanks also referred Felter to Dr. Joseph Turnipseed, a
Dr. Turnipseed first saw Felter on May 31, 2006. She
presented to him with complaints of mid-back pain, low-back
pain, and left-leg pain with numbness. On June 27, 2006, Dr.
Turnipseed released Felter to return to light-duty work. On
September 12, 2006, Felter returned to Dr. Turnipseed's
office, complaining of neck pain. However, Dr. Turnipseed
could not connect Felter's neck pain to her on-the-job
At FloorServ's request, Dr. Anthony Iappolo, a
neurosurgeon, examined Felter on August 30, 2006. Dr. Iappolo
found that Felter's MRI results did not support her
complaints. During the examination, Dr. Iappolo discovered a
spinal L4 protrusion[,] but determined that it was not
related to Felter's backpain complaints. He also did not
find any herniated discs. Further, Dr. Iappolo determined
that Felter's medical treatment up to August 30, 2006,
had been reasonable and necessary. However, he saw no need
for further treatment except possibly a nerve-conduction
study to investigate Felter's complaints of radiating
pain on the left side of her body. Dr. Iappolo diagnosed
Felter with chronic cervical and lumbar pain of unknown
FloorServ also referred Felter to Dr. W. Lyn Stringer, a
neurosurgeon, for evaluation. Dr. Stringer examined Felter on
September 17, 2007. Based on Felter's medical history, a
review of past radiological films, and his examination of
Felter, Dr. Stringer diagnosed her with post-traumatic
cervical, thoracic, and lumbar-spine pain of uncertain
origins. Dr. Stringer noted a degenerative-disc bulge at the
T8-T9 area, which was present prior to the accident, and also
noted degenerative changes in the lumbar spine during the
year following the accident.
On January , 2009, the AJ ruled that Felter had reached
MMI on August 30, 2006, and that she was not entitled to
additional indemnity or medical benefits from FloorServ. The
AJ also ruled that Felter had failed to prove that she
suffered a loss of wage-earning capacity. On February 19,
2009, the AJ allowed Felter's attorney to withdraw from
the case and gave Felter thirty days " to obtain
representation by another attorney or continue prosecution of
the claim without legal representation." Felter
proceeded pro se and appealed the AJ's order to the full
Commission. The Commission dismissed Felter's appeal as
Id. at 433-34 (¶ ¶ 6-13).
The Mississippi Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed
the case, finding that Felter timely appealed the AJ's
decision. Felter v. FloorServ Inc. (Felter II), 140
So.3d 426, 429 (¶ 9) (Miss. 2013). The supreme court
remanded the case to the Commission for a finding on the
merits of her appeal. Id.
On remand, the Commission affirmed the AJ's decision on
the merits of Felter's appeal on June 20, 2014. It is
from this ruling that Felter now appeals.
" The standard of review by which an appellate court
resolves a workers' compensation case is that of
substantial evidence; however, where the issue is one of law
and not of fact, the standard of review is de novo."
Hugh Dancy Co. v. Mooneyham, 68 So.3d 76, 79 (¶
6) (Miss. Ct.App. 2011) (quoting Shelby v. Peavey Elecs.
Corp., 724 So.2d 504, 506 (¶ 8) (Miss. Ct.App.
1998)). " Absent an error of law, we
must affirm the Commission's decision if there is
substantial evidence to support the Commission's
decision." Id. (citation omitted).
Felter asserts on appeal that the AJ refused to take certain
medical records into consideration in her findings. Felter
also argues that the AJ decided the outcome of the case
during a September 23, 2008 phone conference, which occurred
the day before the September 24, 2008 hearing. FloorServ
counters that Felter failed to support her assertions with
legal authority and substantial evidence supported the
AJ's and the Commission's decisions.
" Rule 28(a)(6) of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate
Procedure requires an appellant's brief to 'contain
the contentions of the appellant with respect to the issues
presented, and the reasons for those contentions, with
citations to the authorities, statutes, and parts of the
record relied on.'" Bishop v. Miss. Dep't of
Emp't Sec., 145 So.3d 1254, 1255 (¶ 4) (Miss.
Ct.App. 2014) (quoting M.R.A.P. 28(a)(6)). " [T]he
Mississippi Supreme Court has held that 'pro se parties
should be held to the same rules of procedure and substantive
law as represented parties.'" Id. (quoting
Forrest v. McCoy, 996 So.2d 158, 160 (¶ 7)
(Miss. Ct.App. 2008)).
" The law is well established in Mississippi that this
Court is not required to address any issue that is not
supported by relevant authority." Hills v.
Hills, 986 So.2d 354, 355 (¶ 4) (Miss. Ct.App.
2008) (citing Bell v. State, 879 So.2d 423, 434
(¶ 28) (Miss. 2004)). Therefore, this Court is not
required to consider Felter's claims on appeal. Despite
this procedural bar, we find Felter's claims meritless.
This Court previously discussed the merits of Felter's
appeal after finding her untimely appeal of the AJ's
ruling procedurally barred. Felter I, 140 So.3d at
436 (¶ 20). This Court found substantial evidence
supported the AJ's findings that Felter reached MMI on
August 30, 2006, Felter failed to demonstrate any loss of
wage-earning capacity, and Felter was not entitled to
additional medical benefits. Id. at (¶ 23).
When the supreme court previously reversed and remanded this
case, the court did not address this Court's findings
regarding the merits. See Felter I, 140
So.3d at 429 (¶ 9). Regardless of the effect of the
prior decision, we affirm the rulings of the AJ and the
Medical evidence presented in the record at the hearing on
September 24, 2008, showed differing opinions as to when
Felter reached MMI. Dr. Fairbanks determined Felter reached
MMI on June 21, 2006, while Dr. Iappolo found Felter's
medical treatments through August 30, 2006, to be reasonable.
Additionally, Dr. Passman found Felter did not need further
treatment from a surgeon or neurologist, and Dr. Turnipseed
could not connect Felter's continuous pain to the car
accident. Thus, the AJ weighed the evidence to reach a
conclusion regarding Felter's MMI.
The Commission ruled the substantial evidence supported the
AJ's finding that Felter reached MMI on August 30, 2006.
The Commission also found Felter did not meet her burden in
proving a loss of wage-earning capacity. The Commission
concluded that the medical evidence and Felter's failure
to search for another job weighed against a finding of
permanent disability. We agree and find the AJ and Commission
did not err in these rulings.
We also find Felter's claim that the AJ refused to allow
records into evidence to lack merit. At the September 24,
2008 hearing, the AJ read the list of exhibits on the record,
and then asked counsel if any additional exhibits were
necessary. Felter's attorney at the hearing responded:
" I believe that gets it, Your Honor." Thus, Felter
cannot now claim the AJ excluded any medical records or
evidence when she failed to raise the issue below.
Additionally, Felter's contention that the AJ stated she
would find for FloorServ during a telephone conference call
prior to the hearing is without merit. Felter points to
nothing in the record to indicate the AJ improperly ruled
regarding her case. Further, without any factual evidence or
legal authority, we cannot find in favor of Felter on this
issue. For these foregoing reasons, we affirm the findings of
THE JUDGMENT OF THE MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION
COMMISSION IS AFFIRMED. ALL COSTS OF THIS APPEAL ARE ASSESSED
TO THE APPELLANT.
C.J., IRVING, P.J., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL,
FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.