OF JUDGMENT: 11/28/2017
WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: M. REED MARTZ
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: GREG E. BEARD
LEE, C.J., FAIR AND WILSON, JJ.
On or about July 1, 2014, Rondie Loveless began to experience
pain in her right foot, which she later alleged was due to
standing on concrete floors for twelve-hour shifts in
steel-toed boots during her employment with Cooper Tire and
Rubber Company. She did not timely report the injury as work
related because she "didn't know if it was [work
related]" as the pain "gradually increased over a
period of time[, ]" and she could not identify an injury
or cause. Cooper Tire denied compensability, and Loveless
sought treatment for her foot through private insurance.
Loveless filed a petition to controvert on June 8, 2015. She
was terminated from Cooper Tire on August 29, 2015. On
February 17, 2017, at a hearing on the merits, the
Administrative Judge (AJ) found that Loveless made a prima
facie showing that she sustained a compensable, work-related
foot injury and was entitled to compensation benefits. The
AJ's order stated that the "issue of extent of
permanent partial disability or industrial loss of use
related to the right foot injury will be reserved until
further proceedings." Cooper Tire appealed the AJ's
order to the Workers' Compensation Commission. The
Commission "affirmed in part . . . the [AJ's order]
as to the compensability of the right-foot injury occurring
on or about July l, 2014," and remanded the case to the
AJ "for all further proceedings as are necessary in the
Cooper Tire now appeals, arguing that the Commission erred in
finding Loveless sustained a compensable, work-related injury
to her foot because there was insufficient medical testimony
to establish the essential element of causation. But, the
Commission did not make a final adjudication as to all issues
surrounding Loveless's alleged work-related injury.
Therefore, we lack jurisdiction to address the merits of this
appeal and dismiss.
Loveless worked for Cooper Tire from May 2003 to August 2014.
Initially, Loveless worked as a second-stage tire builder on
the production line until she suffered an admitted
compensable neck injury in June 2004. She reached maximum
medical improvement for this injury in May 2007 and was
assigned permanent restrictions of no pushing, pulling, or
lifting more than twenty pounds. Loveless then went to work
in her second position with Cooper Tire as a lab coordinator
in the mixing department. Loveless worked in this position,
which was considered light-duty work, for eight years until
the foot injury at issue.
On or about July 1, 2014, Loveless alleged she began
experiencing pain on the side of her right foot. She
presented to Med Serve and was seen by Kenny Cook, a
certified nurse practitioner, on July 23, 2014. Nurse
Cook's note indicated that Loveless's complaint was
"[right] foot pain on the lateral side for 1 month"
and that Loveless was "unsure of the cause." Nurse
Cook ordered x-rays of Loveless's foot, which were
performed the same day. The x-ray records showed no acute
fracture or dislocation, no significant arthritic changes,
and revealed a plantar calcaneal spur. Nurse Cook gave
Loveless a prescription for Mobic, an anti-inflammatory drug.
On August 27, 2014, Loveless saw Dr. Nels Thorderson, an
orthopaedic surgeon specializing in the foot and ankle, with
North Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Clinic.
According to Dr. Thorderson's notes from the visit,
Loveless complained of pain and swelling in her right foot,
and described the pain as "sharp, throbbing, aching, and
shooting." Loveless indicated to Dr. Thorderson that her
symptoms were worse during the day, specifically with work
and activity, but improved with rest. She did not recall a
specific accident or injury. Dr. Thorderson noted that
Loveless worked on her feet for twelve-hour shifts in
steel-toed boots. Dr. Thorderson ordered additional x-ray
testing, which again did not show any acute fracture. He then
ordered an MRI for further imaging, as well as placed
Loveless in a fracture boot and restricted her from working.
In notes from September 8, 2014, Dr. Thorderson indicated
that the MRI showed significant edema in the fourth and fifth
proximal metatarsals and diagnosed Loveless with a stress
fracture. Loveless continued to follow-up with Dr. Thorderson
monthly from October 2014 to March 2015, with repeated x-rays
and MRIs. She also transitioned from a fracture boot to a
custom cushion, full-length orthotic boot with arch, to a
full cast, and then to orthotic shoes with inserts. Dr.
Thorderson's notes from Loveless's visit on March 25,
2015, indicated that she was still experiencing persistent
pain. On April 25, 2015, Dr. Thorderson performed surgery on
Loveless's right foot. Specifically, Dr. Thorderson
performed an excision of the soft tissue mass, tarsal
exostectomy, and an allograft to the fifth metatarsal.
Loveless continued to follow up with Dr. Thorderson monthly
post-surgery. According to Dr. Thorderson's notes,
Loveless's surgical incision was healing well, but she
continued to experience pain in her right foot despite
wearing the prescribed boot or inserts and physical therapy.
In August 2015, Dr. Thorderson injected Loveless's foot
with cortisone and noted she experienced complete pain
relief. Loveless saw Dr. Thorderson for the last time on
September 30, 2015, where she received another cortisone
On November 30, 2015, Loveless saw Dr. Bethany Gallagher, an
orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist at Vanderbilt
University, for a second opinion. Dr. Gallagher's notes
from this initial visit indicated Loveless had experienced
right-foot pain and swelling without improvement for two
years despite surgery and other medical interventions. The
office-visit notes also indicated there was "no
antecedent trauma or inciting event." Dr. Gallagher
ordered a CT scan of Loveless's right foot, which
revealed two fractures to the fifth metatarsal, as well as
degenerative changes. On January 8, 2016, Dr. Gallagher
performed surgery on Loveless's foot. Dr. Gallagher's
follow-up-visit notes indicated healing, and Loveless
reported significant pain and symptom improvement at ...