OF JUDGMENT: 03/30/2016
FROM WHICH MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: PATRICK R. BUCHANAN
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: JAMES KENNETH WETZEL GARNER JAMES
LEE, C.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.
James Crittenden sought workers' compensation benefits
from Kellogg Brown & Root LLC (KBR), claiming he suffered
severe back pain from either being struck with a heavy object
falling from a forklift, or from picking it up and putting it
back on the lift. KBR admitted that there was a minor hip
injury, essentially a bruise, but it denied that the incident
was responsible for the severe disability Crittenden claimed.
The administrative judge found the ailments compensable. KBR
successfully appealed to the full Mississippi Workers'
Compensation Commission, which vacated the AJ's decision
and found that Crittenden's back condition was not work
related and, therefore, not compensable.
Crittenden appeals. Because our standard of review requires
this Court to defer to the factual findings of the
Commission, we affirm.
"[R]eview of a decision of the Workers' Compensation
Commission is limited to determining whether the decision was
supported by substantial evidence, was arbitrary and
capricious, was beyond the scope or power of the agency to
make, or violated one's constitutional or statutory
rights." Cook v. Home Depot, 81 So.3d 1041,
1044 (¶3) (Miss. 2012) (citation omitted). "Because
the Commission is the ultimate fact-finder and judge of the
credibility of the witnesses, [an appellate court] may not
reweigh the evidence before the Commission."
Id. at 1044-45 (¶3) (citation omitted).
Questions of law, on the other hand, are reviewed de novo.
Ladner v. Zachry Constr., 130 So.3d 1085, 1088
(¶9) (Miss. 2014).
Crittenden alleged that he sustained a work-related injury to
his back and hip on October 3, 2013, while working as a
pipefitter for KBR. Crittenden and a coworker were gathering
supports for pipe fitting systems, which weighed seventy to
eighty pounds. While picking up the supports with a forklift,
one slipped and struck Crittenden in the right hip.
Crittenden then lifted the support and put it back on the
forklift. He testified that he did not initially suspect a
serious injury, but when he woke up the next day, he could
barely walk because of the pain. Crittenden was subsequently
diagnosed with spinal stenosis and, though it was disputed, a
herniated disc. Different doctors at different times came to
different conclusions about the extent of resulting
disability, though Dr. David Bomboy, the employer's
medical examiner, concluded that Crittenden could not work
because of the pain (though he concluded it was not caused by
the on-the-job injury).
Both Crittenden and KBR stipulated to the incident and a hip
contusion. Otherwise, they agreed to disagree on the nature
of his back problems and presented to the Commission the
single issue of causation of his back injury, specifically
"whether the claimant suffered a work related injury to
his back on October 3, 2013."
After a hearing, where Crittenden testified, and both sides
presented medical ...