SUNBEAM/OSTER CO., INC. v. Bolden

Citation722 So.2d 713
Decision Date13 October 1998
Docket NumberNo. 97-CC-00972 COA.,97-CC-00972 COA.
PartiesSUNBEAM/OSTER COMPANY, INC. and Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, Appellants, v. Helen BOLDEN, Appellee.
CourtMississippi Court of Appeals

David B. McLaurin, Tupelo, Attorney for Appellants.

Kirkland Caldwell Willingham, Holly Spgs, Attorney for Appellee.

Before BRIDGES, C.J., and COLEMAN and HERRING, JJ.

HERRING, Judge, for the Court:

¶ 1. Sunbeam/Oster Company, Inc. and its carrier, Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (hereafter referred to either individually or collectively as Sunbeam), appeals from a decision of the Circuit Court of Marshall County, Mississippi, which affirmed the decision of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission (hereafter Commission). The Commission granted benefits for total and permanent disability as a result of an injury sustained in the workplace by Helen Bolden. The Commission based the decision upon its determination that Bolden was permanently and totally disabled pursuant to Miss.Code Ann. § 71-3-17(a) (Rev. 1995) and overruled the order of the administrative law judge, who awarded benefits based upon a finding that Bolden was permanently partially disabled pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 73-3-17(25) (Rev.1995). We affirm.

I. FACTS

¶ 2. This matter was heard before an administrative law judge on July 12, 1995, at 1:00 p.m. at the Marshall County Courthouse located in Holly Springs, Mississippi. After hearing and reviewing the evidence, the administrative law judge, on October 30, 1995, ordered the employer/carrier to pay benefits as follows:

1. Temporary total disability benefits in the amount of $227.18 per week commencing on October 25, 1993 through January 18, 1995, with proper credit to be given for any benefits, monies or wages previously paid to the claimant;
2. Permanent partial disability benefits in the amount of $104.80 per week commencing on January 19, 1995 and continuing for the statutory maximum of 450 weeks pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 71-3-17(25) (1972);
3. Penalties and interest, if applicable, pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 71-3-37(5) (1972);
4. Provide medical services and benefits as required by the nature of the claimant's injury and the process of her recovery therefrom pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 71-3-15 (1972).

¶ 3. Sunbeam appealed this decision to the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission which heard the matter on September 30, 1996. On December 3, 1996, the Commission entered its order stating:

The Order of Administrative Judge dated October 30, 1995 is reversed accordingly, and the Employer and Carrier are hereby ordered to pay unto Bolden compensation for permanent total disability in the amount of $183.211 per week for a period of 450 weeks, commencing on October 25, 1993. The Employer/Carrier may take credit for any disability benefits previously paid. Moreover, the Employer/Carrier are liable for penalties and interest, as provided by law, on any installments of compensation not timely paid.
Finally, the Employer/Carrier are also obligated to provide Bolden with whatever medical treatment and supplies which are required by the nature of her injury and the process of her recovery, subject to the requirements of Miss.Code.Ann. § 71-3-15 (Rev.1995) and the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Medical Fee Schedule.

¶ 4. Sunbeam timely filed its notice of appeal to the Circuit Court of Marshall County, Mississippi. The circuit court affirmed the Commission's decision and Sunbeam appealed to this Court.

¶ 5. At the hearing, Helen Bolden testified that she was born on January 3, 1937, in Marshall County, Mississippi; that she attended public school in Slayden, Mississippi; and that she completed the eighth grade. She received no additional education, although at the time of the hearing before the administrative law judge, she was attending classes to obtain her G.E.D. Prior to 1983, Bolden was busy raising and caring for her children. In 1983 and 1984, she worked as a waitress but left that employment to go to work for Sunbeam in 1985. She worked for Sunbeam at its plant in Holly Springs until the plant closed in 1995. While working at Sunbeam, Bolden held various assembly line positions. She worked on the "hotshot line," the "fry pan line," the "toaster line," operated a press which made labels, and packaged various products assembled at Sunbeam. On October 25, 1993, at approximately 1:20 p.m., Bolden was working in the course and scope of her employment at Sunbeam when she fell over a platform and fractured her wrist.

¶ 6. Bolden was treated for her injury by Dr. Monaghan who saw her several times and then referred her to Dr. Calandruccio, an orthopaedic surgeon in Southaven, Mississippi, who first saw Bolden on November 3, 1993. Two days later on November 5, 1993, Dr. Calandruccio performed surgery on Bolden's wrist. The nature of Bolden's injury required a realignment of the bones, as well as the use of pins and an external fixator to maintain proper bone alignment. On December 10, 1993, the pins were removed and the external fixator was removed on December 22, 1993. Dr. Calandruccio released Bolden to return to work on March 17, 1994, with the restriction that she wear a wrist splint and that she be placed on a zero to ten pound weight limit during the course of her duties.

¶ 7. Dr. Calandruccio next saw Bolden on April 27, 1994. On this occasion, Bolden complained that she was having trouble picking up screws, lifting heavy objects, and was experiencing pain. Dr. Calandruccio's examination showed limited wrist motion, as well as limited forearm rotation, and x-rays demonstrated degenerative changes at her wrist level. Dr. Calandruccio released her to return to work, and Bolden continued to wear her splint while on the job. He next saw her on June 22, 1994. At that time, Bolden was continuing to have problems doing assembly line work with products which weighed approximately three pounds. According to the record, she had problems with fine manipulation, she was tender in her wrist area, and she had marked limitation when she attempted to make a fist. Dr. Calandruccio gave her an injection at the base of the thumb and scheduled her for electrical studies. She was again released for light duty.

¶ 8. On June 27, 1994, Bolden underwent a second surgery which included treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Calandruccio testified that the inability to do fine manipulation or to pick up small objects, was a "critical manifestation of this particular problem," (carpal tunnel syndrome) and that the carpal tunnel syndrome was a result of the injury she sustained at Sunbeam. Thereafter Dr. Calandruccio saw Bolden on July 20, 1994, August 17, 1994, and September 7, 1994. On September 7, 1994, Dr. Calandruccio noted that Bolden was still complaining of pain in her right upper extremity, and he placed her in a padded glove because of tenderness. He also noted that Bolden complained of pain in her left knee but he did not relate that pain to Bolden's injury at Sunbeam accident.

¶ 9. On September 11, 1994, Bolden returned to work at Sunbeam, and Dr. Calandruccio continued to treat Bolden until her release on January 18, 1995. She continued to work at Sunbeam until February, 1995, when she accepted a voluntarily layoff after Sunbeam decided to relocate its plant facilities to Hattiesburg.

¶ 10. According to Dr. Calandruccio, Bolden reached maximum medical improvement on January 18, 1995, and she was released from further treatment. Dr. Calandruccio testified that on January 18, 1995, Bolden still had problems making a full fist, had pain at the base of her thumb and the back of her wrist, and had a limited motion. Although her sensation was normal, her grip strength was fifteen pounds in her right hand and thirty pounds in her left hand. Significantly, Bolden had a dominant right hand. Dr. Calandruccio testified, "I would add that a right hand dominant person should be slightly greater in that hand than the non-dominant hand perhaps 40 rather than 15 here." He also stated that a potential for additional surgery existed in the future. Regarding Bolden's impairment rating, Dr. Calandruccio stated:

[O]n 02-01-95 I arrived at an impairment rating of 38 percent of the upper extremity which was based on restriction of wrist, forearm and finger motion.... [S]he may in the future require a wrist fusion an operative procedure which would eliminate wrist motion, still give forearm rotation, just eliminate wrist motion and anticipated that the medical fees Campbell Clinic fees, hospital fees and all necessary follow up would be in the neighborhood of $5,000.

Moreover, Bolden's last set of work restrictions "were permanent restrictions in which [there] were limitations on the right upper extremity at a zero to ten pound weight limit and restrictions on pushing, pulling, grasping, repetitive, movements, twisting activities. She probably will require a wrist splint occasionally at work and her condition really had been unchanged for the previous three months." When Dr. Calandruccio was asked the question, "based upon a reasonable degree of medical probability do you have an opinion about whether she could return to work if the job fit within those restrictions?", his answer was "Yes."

¶ 11. In February, 1995, Sunbeam began to phase out its operations in Holly Springs and prepared to move its operations to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. As orders for a particular product were completed, Sunbeam closed down the idled line, and employees, including Bolden, were given the opportunity to move to other lines still in service. However, Bolden testified that when her line shut down, she approached the personnel manager about work on another line, but the personnel manager told her "that they didn't think I could do the jobs because it pertained to screwdrivers and items like that, and he said he thought it would further...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 cases
  • Guardian Fiberglass, Inc. v. LeSueur
    • United States
    • Mississippi Court of Appeals
    • November 16, 1999
    ...C.J., KING AND SOUTHWICK, P.JJ., BRIDGES, IRVING, LEE, MOORE, PAYNE, AND THOMAS, JJ., CONCUR. 1. Guardian cited Sunbeam/Oster Co. Inc. v. Bolden, 722 So.2d 713 (Miss.Ct.App.1998) for this and other propositions. It should be noted that this opinion was withdrawn on motion of appellant on Fe......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT