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Barnes v. LFI Fort Pierce, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

February 6, 2018

MICHAEL BARNES APPELLANT
v.
LFI FORT PIERCE, INC., LABOR FINDERS AND ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/28/2017

         MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CHADWICK LESTER SHOOK

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: M. REED MARTZ

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., BARNES AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         FOR THE COURT:

         ¶1. Michael Barnes (Barnes) appeals the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission order sustaining the administrative judge's determination that Barnes did not suffer a compensable injury. We find the Commission's order is supported by substantial evidence and therefore affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On March 23, 2015, Barnes was employed by Labor Finders, a temporary, pay-by-the- day labor provider for individuals and businesses. Labor Finders sent Barnes to a construction site. While at the site, Barnes explained that he was instructed to retrieve sinks from upstairs and bring them downstairs. Barnes alleged that while bringing the sinks downstairs, he missed a step and tumbled. Barnes managed to grab the rail, but he nevertheless fell on his back. As a result of the fall, Barnes injured his back and tailbone. Barnes stated that no one witnessed the fall, and he did not tell anyone about the fall. He explained that he spent the rest of his workday retrieving extension cords.

         ¶3. At the end of the day, Barnes returned to Labor Finders and signed an acknowledgment that he had been paid for that day. The acknowledgment of pay also included a disclaimer that Barnes had not sustained any work-related injuries on that day. The following day, Barnes experienced lumbar pain and stated that he could not walk. As a result, Barnes's son drove him to the job site to report the injury. He wrote a statement of the incident and was taken to a medical provider by his supervisor. Barnes was diagnosed with narrowing L4-5 arthritic changes. Following the incident report and physician's diagnoses, Labor Finders began to pay Barnes temporary benefits for his injury. However, Labor Finders ceased to pay those benefits after it discovered that Barnes did not disclose a back surgery that he had twenty years prior to the date of his injury.

         ¶4. Barnes filed a petition to controvert with the Workers' Compensation Commission. Labor Finders denied Barnes's claim, citing the false statements he made on his job application, and terminated Barnes thereafter. A compensability hearing was held before an administrative judge, and the judge found that Barnes failed to prove that he suffered a compensable injury. Barnes's petition was dismissed, and he appealed the decision to the full Commission.

         ¶5. Prior to the Commission's decision, Barnes filed a motion to supplement the record, requesting that the Commission consider additional evidence not made part of the record before the administrative judge. Both parties briefed the matter, but no oral argument was held. The Commission affirmed the administrative judge's dismissal and incorporated the administrative judge's decision as its own, while also denying Barnes's motion to supplement the record. It is from that order that Barnes now appeals. Barnes raises the following issues on appeal: (1) the Commission disregarded Barnes's testimony regarding the work-related injury; (2) the Commission erred in refusing to supplement the record to include all medical records connected to the medical-records affidavit; and (3) whether the receipt-of-payment acknowledgment form violates public policy.

         STANDARD ...


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