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Appeals court denies reopening of back injury claim


A man who settled a disputed workers compensation claim for $2,500 over a slipped-disc injury he suffered while on his first day of work at a furniture company cannot reopen his claim over complaints that his back pain worsened, an appeals court in Mississippi ruled on Tuesday.

James Curry alleges he injured his back while attaching a spring to a sofa frame in 2016 while working for Ashley Furniture Industries Inc., which denied his claim on the basis that he had suffered a back injury previously, however agreed in 2017 to the settlement, according to documents in James Curry v. Ashley Furniture Industries and Trumbull Insurance Co., filed in the Court of Appeals of Mississippi in Jackson, Mississippi.

Court documents chronicle medical records citing a back injury and a recommendation for surgery, but are not conclusive in that Mr. Curry suffered his injury at work. Nine months after settling his claim, he requested that the state Workers’ Compensation Commission reopen his case because the injury was “worse than he thought when he agreed to settle his claim,” according to documents. An administrator law judge denied his motion, finding no change in his condition from when he settled his claim, finding that Mr. Curry's "allegation that (Ashley Furniture) ‘brainwashed’ him into minimizing his symptoms or somehow duped him into thinking that his symptoms were a continuation of his prior back strains" was “contradicted by Curry's contemporaneous medical records and his own testimony.” The full commission agreed.

Finding “no abuse of discretion” the appeals court affirmed, stating “there is also substantial evidence to support the judge's finding that there had not been any relevant change in conditions that would justify reopening the case.”

The appeals court also drew in the fact that Mr. Curry had been incarcerating in between his settlement and his request to reopen his claim, noting that “following his release from incarceration, Curry reported that his increased back pain began as a result of uncomfortable sleeping conditions during his incarceration.” 





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