OF JUDGMENT: 10/24/2016
WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: JILL RENEE MILLER MICHAEL MADISON
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: BRETT ANDREW FERGUSON
GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.
Edwin Scott developed a staph infection in his spine after
receiving epidural injections as treatment for a workplace
injury. After being presented with dueling expert opinions,
the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission found
that the infection had resulted from the injections and thus
was a compensable injury itself. Lowe's Home Centers, the
employer/carrier, contends that Scott's expert should not
have been be credited. We disagree and 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).
Scott injured his lower back while unloading a heavy
appliance. He was to be treated with a series of epidural
steroid injections. The first was on May 9, 2014, with the
second following on May 29, 2014. On May 30, Scott was found
to have an epidural abscess in the lower back, a staph
infection caused by methicillin-resistant staphylococcus
aureus (MRSA) bacteria. The infection necessitated several
The factual dispute in this case is causation - whether the
injections led to the staph infection. "In workers'
compensation cases, the claimant bears the burden of proving
by a fair preponderance of the evidence . . . a causal
connection between the injury and the . . . claimed
disability." Harper v. Banks, Finley, White &
Co. of Miss., 167 So.3d 1155, 1163 (¶19) (Miss.
2015) (citation omitted).
The expert for Lowe's, Dr. Eric Amundson, a neurosurgeon,
testified that infections rarely resulted from epidural
injections and that Scott, a diabetic, was especially
vulnerable to "spontaneous" infections. He noted
that Scott had had two staph infections in the past two years
in other parts of his body. Dr. Amundson concluded that the
injections were not the cause of Scott's infection.
On the other hand, Dr. Eric McVey, an infectious disease
specialist who treated Scott, testified that he believed the
infection was caused by the injections. He based this finding
on the timing of the injections and their location, which was
a few centimeters from the infection. Dr. McVey noted that
"spontaneous" infections do not appear from
nowhere, but require staph bacteria to have entered the blood
somehow. Because it is not possible to fully sterilize skin
prior to an injection, the bacteria could have entered
Scott's body from the needle punctures. Alternatively,
bacteria already present in the blood could have infected the
spine because of inflammation from the injections. Dr. McVey
acknowledged that it would be unusual for an infection to