OF JUDGMENT: 10/16/2018
MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: AMANDA GRACE HILL ROGEN K. CHHABRA
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: MICHAEL D. YOUNG
Delorise Rollins was employed by Quality Choice Correctional
Healthcare (Quality Choice) as a nurse at the Hinds County
Detention Center in Raymond. Quality Choice had a contract
with Hinds County to provide comprehensive medical care to
inmates at the Detention Center. Rollins was injured on the
job in 2013 and eventually pursued a workers'
compensation claim against Quality Choice for that injury.
She sustained a second injury at work in 2014, but Quality
Choice's workers' compensation coverage had been
cancelled prior to her second injury. Rollins filed a
workers' compensation claim related to her second injury
against the Hinds County Sheriff's Department (HCSD),
alleging that HCSD was obligated to provide benefits as a
"general contractor" and her "statutory
employer." Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-7(6) (Supp.
2019). The Workers' Compensation Commission ruled that
HCSD was not liable for workers' compensation benefits
because it was not Rollins's statutory employer. We agree
with the Commission's determination and therefore affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
As stated above, Rollins was employed by Quality Choice as a
nurse at the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond. She
alleged that she sustained injuries at work in August 2013
and September 2014. For each injury, she filed a petition to
controvert with the Workers' Compensation Commission. In
both petitions, she alleged that HCSD was liable for
workers' compensation benefits as her "statutory
employer" because her actual employer, Quality Choice,
was without workers' compensation coverage. It was later
determined that Quality Choice did have coverage at the time
of Rollins's first injury but that its insurance carrier
validly and effectively cancelled the policy prior to
Rollins's second injury. As a result, Rollins amended her
first petition to identify Quality Choice and its carrier as
the employer/carrier, and HCSD was dismissed from that case.
In response to Rollins's second petition to controvert,
HCSD denied that it was Rollins's "statutory
employer." HCSD produced Quality Choice's contract
with Hinds County to provide comprehensive medical care for
inmates at detention facilities including the Detention
Center at Raymond. HCSD also produced a quitclaim deed
showing that Hinds County owns the property on which the
Detention Center is located.
The administrative judge held that HCSD was not Rollins's
statutory employer based on "a thorough review of all
pertinent and current case law and the totality of
circumstances surrounding this claim." The judge stated
that "[a] controlling point is the fact that Hinds
County . . . was the owner of the detention center/penal farm
at all relevant times applicable to the alleged incidents and
the claimant was an employee of Quality Choice . . . at all
relevant times." The judge's order also quoted a
relevant paragraph of the Mississippi Supreme Court's
opinion in Thomas v. Chevron U.S.A. Inc., 212 So.3d
58 (Miss. 2017):
In sum, this Court never has treated the owner of land as a
prime or general contractor for purposes of the Workers'
Compensation Act. Here, Chevron was the owner of the plant.
The fact that Chevron contracted with APS for certain
maintenance and other work does not change Chevron's
status as an owner. APS is the chief or prime contractor. A
chief or prime contractor is defined as one who has a
contract with the owner of a project or job, and has full
responsibility for its completion.
Id. at 64 (¶22) (quotation marks omitted).
Because the administrative judge held that HCSD was not
Rollins's statutory employer, she ruled that HCSD was not
liable for any workers' compensation benefits. The full
Commission affirmed in a one-page order that adopted ...