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Robinson v. The Loxcreen Company, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

April 16, 2019

ULYSSES ROBINSON, JR., Claimant-Respondent,
v.
THE LOXCREEN COMPANY, INC., Employer-Appellant, and TREASURER OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI AS CUSTODIAN OF THE SECOND INJURY FUND, Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION

          OPINION

          MARY W. SHEFFIELD, J.

         The Loxcreen Company ("Employer") appeals the final award granting permanent partial disability benefits and future medical expenses to its former employee, Ulysses Robinson, Jr. ("Claimant"), by the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission ("the Commission"), which stemmed from a 2007 work accident. The Second Injury Fund ("the Fund") appeals Claimant's award of permanent total disability benefits. Employer raises four points on appeal, and the Fund raises one. Finding no merit in either Employer's or the Fund's points, we affirm the award of the Commission.

         Standard of Review

         Appeals of the Commission's decision are governed by the Missouri Constitution and § 287.495.[1] "On appeal, this Court reviews the Commission's decision to determine if it is 'supported by competent and substantial evidence upon the whole record.'" Johme v. St. John's Mercy Healthcare, 366 S.W.3d 504, 509 (Mo. banc 2012) (quoting Mo. Const. Art. V, § 18); see also Hampton v. Big Boy Steel Erection, 121 S.W.3d 220, 222-23 (Mo. banc 2003). On appeal, the Court:

may modify, reverse, remand for rehearing, or set aside the award upon any of the following grounds and no other:
(1) [t]hat the [C]ommission acted without or in excess of its powers;
(2) [t]hat the award was procured by fraud;
(3) [t]hat the facts found by the [C]ommission do not support the award; [or]
(4) [t]hat there was not sufficient competent evidence in the record to warrant the making of the award.

§ 287.495.1. The workers' compensation laws are to be strictly construed. § 287.800.1. In reviewing a decision of the Commission, this Court reviews the "findings of the Commission and not those of the [Administrative Law Judge]" ("ALJ"). Lawrence v. Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc., 310 S.W.3d 248, 250 (Mo. App. E.D. 2010).

         In each of Employer's four points, Employer asks this Court to reverse the Commission's award based on a lack of "competent and substantial evidence," thereby invoking the standard set forth in § 287.495.1(4).[2] "A section 287.495.1(4) challenge succeeds only in the demonstrated absence of sufficient competent substantial evidence; evidence contrary to the award of the Commission, regardless of quantity or quality, is 'irrelevant.'" Nichols v. Belleview R-III School Dist., 528 S.W.3d 918, 922 (Mo. App. S.D. 2017) (quoting Hornbeck v. Spectra Painting, Inc., 370 S.W.3d 624, 629 (Mo. banc 2012)). "Sufficient competent evidence is a minimum threshold" and can be satisfied by the testimony of one witness, even if there is contradictory testimony from other witnesses. Nichols, 528 S.W.3d at 922. Essentially, Employer and the Fund argue that the Commission erred by not adopting their view of the conflicting evidence. While we examine the whole record, we must still defer to the Commission's determinations in resolving conflicting medical testimony given by expert witnesses. Armstrong v. Tetra Pak, Inc., 391 S.W.3d 466, 470-71 (Mo. App. S.D. 2012).

         Here, the Commission's decision to grant compensation is not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence and is affirmed.

         Background

         In November 2007, Claimant was injured in a work accident involving a metal dolly stacked with over 2, 000 pounds of weight. Claimant was on an incline coming out of a truck, and lost control of the dolly. Claimant was trapped between a boom[3] and the dolly, so he jumped over the dolly to keep it from falling on him. He tripped and fell "face forward," hit his head on the concrete, and passed out. Claimant's hands were under his body when he fell, and he was not able to brace his fall at all. Both of ...


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