MARY L. HARMON APPELLANT
SFD HOLDINGS INC. (OXFORD HEALTHCARE) AND LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY APPELLEES
OF JUDGMENT: 09/21/2017
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ROBERTA LYNN HAUGHTON
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: GEORGE E. READ SHEA STEWART SCOTT
LEE, C.J., BARNES AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.
In this appeal, we must determine whether the Mississippi
Workers' Compensation Commission's (the Commission)
decision to reduce the claimant's loss of wage-earning
capacity from 50% to 20% was arbitrary and capricious.
Mary Harmon suffered an on-the-job injury on June 14, 2013,
while working as a certified nurse assistant (CNA) at SFD
Holdings Inc., d/b/a Oxford Healthcare, in Tupelo,
Mississippi. She filed a petition to controvert on August 21,
2013. Harmon's employer admitted that she sustained an
injury to her cervical spine, back, and right upper
extremity. After a hearing, the administrative judge (AJ)
found that Harmon suffered a 50% loss of wage-earning
capacity. The AJ awarded Harmon $242 per week in temporary
total disability benefits beginning June 14, 2013, and ending
October 14, 2015. The AJ also awarded Harmon $121.01 per week
in permanent partial disability benefits beginning October
15, 2015, for 450 weeks.
SFD appealed to the Commission. The Commission affirmed the
AJ's findings regarding the compensability of
Harmon's claim and the award of temporary total
disability benefits but reduced the loss of wage-earning
capacity from 50% to 20%. As a result, Harmon was awarded
$48.40 per week in permanent partial disability benefits.
After her injury, Harmon went to a local emergency room for
treatment, where she received pain medication. Harmon later
sought treatment from Dr. Chad Altmeyer, who initially
prescribed injections and physical therapy. Dr. Altmeyer
continued to treat Harmon's right-shoulder injury, but
referred her to Dr. Kenny Edwards for treatment of her back
injury. Ultimately, Harmon required surgery on her back and
her right shoulder. Dr. Edwards diagnosed Harmon with
cervical stenosis and disc herniations from vertebrae C4
through C7. Dr. Edwards performed a cervical fusion on Harmon
in April 2014 and placed Harmon at maximum medical
improvement (MMI) on December 3, 2014, with a
twenty-five-pound lifting restriction.
Dr. Altmeyer performed a right shoulder arthroscopy with
debridement and decompression on Harmon's right shoulder
in June 2015. Post-surgery, Dr. Altmeyer recommended that
Harmon continue physical therapy. Dr. Altmeyer placed Harmon
at MMI on October 14, 2015, with restrictions including no
overhead work and no repetitive pushing or
pulling. Dr. Altmeyer assigned Harmon a permanent
impairment rating of 3% to her right upper extremity.
Dr. Rahul Vohra conducted an independent medical examination
(IME) on Harmon in April 2016. Dr. Vohra also reviewed the
medical records from both Dr. Edwards and Dr. Altmeyer. Dr.
Vohra determined that Harmon had an impairment rating of 1%
to her upper right extremity and 6% to her whole person for
her cervical spine. Dr. Vohra agreed with the
twenty-five-pound lifting restriction. He further found that
Harmon should limit overhead work to an occasional basis and
limit pushing and pulling up to forty pounds on an occasional
Pete Mills conducted a vocational evaluation dated May 29,
2015. Mills's report referred to a functional capacity
evaluation (FCE) conducted by Alan Thompson on October 21,
2014. The excerpt from the FCE in Mills's report stated
that Harmon was capable of light-level work, or
"exerting up to [twenty] pounds of force constantly
and/or up to ...