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Logan v. Klaussner Furniture Corp.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 15, 2017

BETTYE LOGAN APPELLANT
v.
KLAUSSNER FURNITURE CORPORATION D/B/A BRUCE FURNITURE INDUSTRIES AND AMERICAN CASUALTY COMPANY OF READING, PA APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/23/2015

         MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: ROY O. PARKER HALEY WADE MCINGVALE II

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: AMY LEE TOPIK JOSEPH ANTHONY GERACHE III

         EN BANC.

          MODIFIED OPINIONS ON MOTION FOR REHEARING

          GREENLEE, J.

         ¶1. The motion for rehearing is denied. The previous opinions of this Court are withdrawn, and these opinions are substituted in their place.

         ¶2. This is an appeal from a decision of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission in which Bettye Logan was found to have incurred a permanent partial disability (scheduled member) with a sixty-percent loss of industrial use of her left lower extremity stemming from an admittedly work-related injury. Logan appealed the decision of the Commission to this Court, claiming that she is entitled to the maximum allowable amount of permanent total disability under the law instead of the lower amount awarded by the Commission. This is the second appeal this Court has heard stemming from Logan's workers' compensation claim for disability benefits. In Logan v. Klaussner Furniture Corp., 127 So.3d 1138 (Miss. Ct. App. 2013) (Logan I), we held that (1) "at the very least, Logan should have been assessed a loss of wage-earning capacity[, ]" and (2) the "evidence in this case supports a finding of permanent partial or total disability[, ]" Id. at 1142-43 (¶¶20-21), and remanded the case to the Commission for further proceedings consistent with the Court of Appeals' decision. Id. at (¶23). After remand, the Commission assessed Logan a loss of industrial use instead of determining her loss of wage-earning capacity, which was inapposite to our decision in Logan I. Because the Commission's subsequent decision did not comport with our findings in Logan I, we reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         ¶3. The dissent disagrees asserting that Logan's injury was to her leg and therefore her assessment and recovery should be limited to the scheduled-member provisions of Mississippi Code Annotated section 71-3-17(c)(2) (Rev. 2001). The dissent misapplies our Logan I ruling that, "at the very least, " Logan had a loss of wage-earning capacity, the amount of which should have been assessed. The dissent treats that portion of our opinion dealing with loss of wage-earning capacity in Logan I as dicta. "Dicta" is an opinion of a judge that does "not embody the resolution or determination of the specific case before the court. Expressions in a court's opinion that go beyond the facts before the court and therefore are individual views of the author of the opinion and not binding in subsequent cases as legal precedent." 3 West's Encyclopedia of American Law, at 427 (2d ed. 2005); see also Black's Law Dictionary (6th ed. 1990). However, the language of Logan I that Logan should have been assessed a loss of wage-earning capacity and that Logan had suffered a permanent partial or total disability was the stated reason for the Logan I remand to the Commission. Also, loss of wage-earning capacity is only pertinent when a court has found the disability calculation should be governed by criteria other than the limited scheduled-member criteria of section 71-3-17(c)(1)-(24).

         ¶4. The dissent takes issue with the use of section 71-3-17(c)(25) when permanent partial disability is warranted, arguing its use is limited to a narrow range of "other" circumstances. But section 71-3-17(c)(25)'s use is for that type of condition where there is permanent partial disability and a loss of wage-earning capacity. The dissent's import would be that after remand the Commission may ignore or interpret the Court's mandate to modify the factual and legal ruling although otherwise directed by this Court. The dissent also suggests that we should prescribe a result rather than remand for a finding of Logan's loss of wage-earning capacity, therefore dispensing with this case more conveniently.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶5. Logan was employed by the Klaussner Furniture Corporation d/b/a Bruce Furniture Industries. On October 9, 2003, Logan was injured when her foot became caught in some fabric fibers at work, causing her to fall. Logan filed a petition to controvert with the Commission on December 9, 2004, and a hearing was held on August 12, 2010.

         ¶6. On July 29, 2011, the administrative judge (AJ) entered an order finding that Logan had not suffered any industrial loss of use to her left lower extremity. Logan then filed a petition for review before the full Commission. On February 6, 2012, the full Commission affirmed the decision of the AJ.

         ¶7. Logan appealed to this Court, and on June 4, 2013, we reversed and remanded the decision of the Commission in Logan I, where we found that (1) "at the very least, Logan should have been assessed a loss of wage-earning capacity[, ]" and (2) the "evidence establish[ed] that Logan ha[d] suffered a permanent partial or ...


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