OF JUDGMENT: 06/06/2018
TRIBUNAL FROM WHICH MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: GILSON DAVIS PETERSON
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: ANDREW D. SWEAT JENNIFER HUGHES
This case is before the Court on appeal from an order the
Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission entered.
Angela Jones alleges she was injured when her back
"pop[ped]" while pushing a medicine cart during her
nursing shift at Baptist Hospital. In an evidentiary hearing,
the Administrative Judge (AJ) found that Jones sustained a
compensable work-related injury. Mississippi Baptist Health
Systems petitioned the Mississippi Workers' Compensation
Commission for review. The Commission reversed the AJ's
order and determined that Jones did not sustain a compensable
work-related injury. Aggrieved, Jones now appeals the
Jones worked as registered nurse for Baptist Hospital for
fourteen years. Jones testified that on March 21, 2015, she
was pushing a medicine cart during her shift when she felt a
"pop" in her right lower back. She then felt a
burning sensation going down her right thigh. Jones asked the
only witness to the event, her charge nurse, Theresa Blanton,
if she too heard the "pop." Blanton said she did
not. However, Blanton did testify that Jones's behavior
changed and that she was visibly in pain and limping
Two days later Jones sought treatment from her family
physician, Dr. Larry Sivils. On the patient information sheet
at Dr. Sivils' office, Jones circled "no" when
asked whether the visit was related to an injury. When the
information sheet asked about the date and cause of the
injury, Jones marked through the corresponding blanks with
two lines and added a question mark. On his notes for this
visit, Dr. Sivils documented that Jones "denie[d] direct
That same day, Jones emailed the nurse manager, Jamie Hill,
informing him of her condition. In the email she wrote she
"started having trouble on Tuesday last week with [her]
leg, but Friday night it was hurting a lot." She also
informed Hill that her leg problem began after her back
started hurting and a "pop" in her lower back the
Jones then sought treatment from Dr. Eric Amundson. On the
patient history form Jones circled "no" and added a
question mark in response to whether she sustained an injury
and to whether the problem was due to an on-the-job injury.
She also added a question mark on the section asking how she
was injured. In his notes for that visit, Dr. Amundson
documented "nine days ago patient reports developing
right buttock and hip pain with radiation into her lateral
thigh and anterior thigh . . . her pain progressed
significantly six days ago . . . she denies any precipitating
event." Dr. Amundson then referred Jones for an MRI.
Jones then saw Dr. Edwin Dodd. On her patient forms Jones
wrote "at work, not an accident," "pain just
began, I can't relate it to anything," and
"progressive for years." She noted on the form that
her pain was "progressive after several shifts in a row,
overtime was at work." Jones responded in the negative
to whether her pain or injury was a workers' compensation
case. Dr. Dodd's notes indicate that Jones described
"an approximate five-to-six year history of low back
pain, which has been intermittently problematic . . . . [S]he
began experiencing some new onset of moderate low back pain
and right lower extremity radiation approximately two weeks
ago without any obvious precipitating event."
Jones consulted with Dr. James Woodall for a second opinion
regarding her symptoms. On her patient history form Jones
again marked "no" when asked whether her condition
was a work injury. Dr. Woodall's notes indicate Jones
told him that her pain was ongoing but had worsened over the
last two months.
Five months after the injury Baptist Hospital approved
Jones's request for FMLA leave. Two months after
approving the FMLA Jones emailed a Baptist Hospital
representative indicating that her injuries were related to
pushing the medicine cart during her nursing shift. Baptist
then initiated the process for investigating a worker's
In a letter to Baptist Hospital, Dr. Woodall wrote that he
did not see "anything on her imaging that I could
definitively say appeared acute, and it would be difficult
for [him] to relate that."
Dr. Woodall testified that Jones's June 3, 2016 visit was
the first time she had provided him with a history of pain
starting with a "pop" in her back that day at work.
He further testified that he could not "with reasonable
probability" say that the condition for which he treated
Jones resulted from the injury she suffered that day.
An evidentiary hearing was held before an administrative
judge to determine whether Jones sustained a compensable,
work-related injury. The AJ found Jones to be credible and
that a preponderance of the evidence supported a finding that
she sustained a compensable, work-related injury. Baptist
Hospital appealed this decision with the Mississippi
Workers' Compensation Commission. The Commission found
that Jones did not present sufficient medical evidence to
support her claim and entered an order reversing the AJ.
This Court is authorized to review all questions of law and
fact from an appeal of the Mississippi Workers'
Compensation Commission. Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-51
(Supp. 2011). Great deference is afforded to the findings of
the Commission, and such findings will not be disturbed when
they are supported by substantial evidence. City of
Jackson v. Sandifer, 125 So.3d 681, 686 (¶19)
(Miss. Ct. App. 2013). However, where the Commission's
application of the law is in error, this Court will not
hesitate to reverse. Beverly Healthcare v. Hare, 51
So.3d 223, 229 (¶18) (Miss. Ct. App. 2010). When the
Commission "fails to carry out the beneficent intent and
purpose of the Workers' Compensation Act," such an
error in law has occurred. Id.
To establish a claim under workers' compensation law, a
claimant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that
(1) there was an accidental injury, (2) arising out of and in
the course of employment, and (3) there is a causal
connection between the injury and the claimed disability.
City of Jackson, 125 So.3d at 688 (¶27).
The issue in this appeal is whether the Commission correctly
applied the law when it disregarded Jones's testimony in
determining that she did not sustain a compensable and
work-related injury during her nursing shift at Baptist
"The Workers' Compensation Act is to be construed
liberally in favor of claimants." Union Camp Corp.
v. Hall, 955 So.2d 363, 371 (¶36) (Miss. Ct. App.
2006). Doubtful cases should be resolved in favor of
compensation. Id. "Based on the 'broad
policy considerations undergirding the Workers'
Compensation Act and the liberal construction to be given the
compensation statutes,' the injured worker should prevail
when the evidence is 'even.'" Id.
A claimant's testimony generally ought to be accepted as
true unless that testimony is disputed or so unreasonable as
to be unbelievable. Waffle House v. Allam, 976 So.2d
919, 921 (¶10) (Miss. Ct. App. 2007). Our Supreme Court
has held that evidence not affirmatively contradicted and not
"inherently improbable, incredible, or
unreasonable" cannot be arbitrarily and capriciously
discarded. Morris v. Landsell's Frame Co., 547
So.2d 782, 785 (¶5) (Miss. 1989). Further, unless shown
to be untrustworthy, the uncontradicted evidence is to be
taken as conclusive and binding. Id. This holds true
even for testimony of an interested party. Id.
On the date in question Jones was pushing a medicine cart
during her nursing shift at Baptist hospital. While pushing
the cart, she felt a "pop" in her right lower back.
She then felt a burning sensation going down her right thigh.
This was corroborated by the only witness to the event,
Blanton. At the moment of injury, Jones even turned to
Blanton and asked if she heard her back "pop."
Blanton replied that she had not heard the "pop."
Blanton later testified that she saw Jones that day limping
as if she was hurt. Therefore the uncontested evidence was
that Jones suffered an injury while performing her duties as
a nurse. The injury was further supported by Blanton's
presence and subsequent corroboration. Furthermore, this is
similar to other injuries sustained in the nursing
In an analogous case, this Court reversed the
Commission's decision to deny a nurse's claim for
failure to present substantial and credible evidence.
Beverly Healthcare v. Hare, 51 So.3d 223, 230
(¶24) (Miss. Ct. App. 2010). In Beverly a nurse
was pushing a medicine cart while distributing medication
during her shift at a nursing home. Beverly
Healthcare, at 266 (¶9). ...