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McInturff v. Yellow Roadway Corp.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 23, 2019

JIMMY McINTURFF AND SANDRA McINTURFF APPELLANTS
v.
YELLOW ROADWAY CORPORATION AND ROADWAY EXPRESS CORPORATION APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/17/2018

          MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: JOEL W. HOWELL III

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: WILLIAM BIENVILLE SKIPPER

          BEFORE J. WILSON, P.J., GREENLEE AND McCARTY, JJ.

          MCCARTY, J.

         ¶1. In this appeal we must decide whether the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission erred when it found that Jimmy and Sandra McInturff's compensation claims were time-barred. Because the McInturffs filed their claims after the two-year statute of limitations had run, and no exceptions applied to toll the statute, we affirm the Commission's dismissal.

         FACTS PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Jimmy and Sandra were a husband and wife truck-driving team. On June 17, 2013, the couple was involved in a motor-vehicle accident in Florida while on the job for Yellow Roadway Corporation. The McInturffs went to a local hospital in Florida where they were examined and given a work-status note removing them from work for three days. The work-status note specified that the McInturffs could "resume normal work" on June 20, 2013.

         ¶3. Following the accident, Yellow Roadway paid workers' compensation medical expenses for the McInturffs' various doctor appointments, tests, physical-therapy sessions, and prescription medications for neck pain, back pain, and stiffness relating to the accident. The McInturffs were not paid any disability benefits apart from the medical expenses. At some point in February or March 2016, the McInturffs inquired about disability benefits for time missed from work due to the accident. They were subsequently advised that the medical visits and diagnostic scans that had already been authorized would be covered but that the statute of limitations had expired on their claims.

         ¶4. On April 29, 2016, Jimmy and Sandra both filed individual petitions to controvert. Their claims were consolidated for discovery and hearing purposes. Yellow Roadway filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the McInturffs' claims were barred by the statute of limitations. A hearing on the motion to dismiss was held before the Administrative Judge (AJ). Before the hearing, the McInturffs and Yellow Roadway stipulated that (1) the McInturffs suffered work-related injuries, (2) no workers' compensation disability benefits were paid to the McInturffs, (3) medical expenses under workers' compensation were paid to the McInturffs, and (4) Yellow Roadway filed the first report of injury on February 26, 2016.

         ¶5. At the hearing, the McInturffs testified that after the accident, they requested disability benefits. They allege their supervisor, Bill Willis, told them to take vacation and sick days until they felt better. As such, the McInturffs argue that they relied on Willis's instruction and did not apply for disability benefits. They testified that they were unable to work on numerous days following the accident due to pain, medical appointments, or taking medication that was contraindicated while driving. The McInturffs argue that the vacation and sick days they were paid were "wages in lieu of compensation."

         ¶6. Charles Eggins, a line-haul manager for Yellow Roadway, testified that in March 2016 Jimmy asked why he was not receiving workers' compensation disability benefits instead of having to take sick and vacation days. Eggins stated that this was the first time the McInturffs had inquired about disability benefits. He investigated the claim with the workers' compensation adjuster and confirmed that no disability benefits had been paid to the McInturffs other than medical expenses. Additionally, Eggins spoke with Willis, who denied that he had instructed the McInturffs to take sick and vacation days instead of applying for disability benefits. On March 17, 2016, the McInturffs received a letter from the workers' compensation carrier stating they were not entitled to any workers' compensation benefits after June 17, 2015-two years from the date of the accident.

         ¶7. The AJ found that the statute of limitations had run on the McInturffs' workers' compensation claims. Additionally, the AJ found that Yellow Roadway had not paid the McInturffs wages in lieu of compensation and that estoppel did not apply. The McInturffs appealed to the Commission, which affirmed and adopted the AJ's ...


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