Ninth District Court of Appeals upholds court order in workers’ comp case

By David Hutton | Aug 16, 2017

BEAUMONT – Texas’ 9th District Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court order granting summary judgment to the Texas State Office of Risk Management in a workers’ compensation claim case.

Lisa Atkins-January of Port Arthur had filed an appeal after Jefferson County District Court had granted summary judgment to the SORM and dismissed her workers’ compensation claims with prejudice.

The appeals court affirmed the order Aug. 3.

Atkins-January is a former employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and SORM serves as the workers’ compensation insurance carrier for TDCJ.

On Nov. 17, 2012, while employed by TDCJ, Atkins-January sustained a work-related injury when she tripped and fell.

After pursuing a workers’ compensation claim, a hearing officer of the Texas Department of Insurance–Division of Workers’ Compensation concluded the evidence supported compensable injuries that included a right elbow contusion, a left elbow contusion, a left hip injury and a right ankle sprain/strain.

“The credible evidence did not establish that the compensable injury included left knee internal derangement and an HNP at L4-L5,” the hearing officer wrote.

Moreover, Atkins-January did not present a doctor’s testimony or written statement to explain how the accident caused or aggravated the injuries to the left knee or back.

The Appeals Panel of the division affirmed the hearing officer’s decision and order, making the hearing officer’s decision the “final decision” effective March 9, 2015.

Following that decision, Atkins-January in April 2015 filed a lawsuit seeking judicial review of the division’s decision.

In the appeals court’s ruling, Justice Leanne Johnson wrote that January’s brief filed in the case consisted of one page that did not identify a legal issue and did not assert a point of error supported by “clear and concise” argument.

The court also noted January had provided no record references nor any citations to relevant legal authority.

“We conclude that, due to the inadequacy of her brief, the appellant has waited her issues on appeal,” Johnson wrote.

The court cited Martinez v. El Paso as it affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

9th District Court of Appeals at Beaumont case No. 09-16-00439-CV

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