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JACKSON, Miss.—In a split en banc decision Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that decisions from the state's Workers' Compensation Commission can be appealed directly to the high court.
In Joseph Dewayne Johnson vs. Sysco Food Services, Mr. Johnson appealed to the state supreme court after the workers comp commission denied him benefits in July 2011. A 2011 amendment to the state workers comp law allowed the supreme court to directly consider appeals of commission rulings.
In its 5-4 ruling, the majority opinion said that the amendment is constitutional, because the workers comp commission is "a quasijudicial body that renders judicial decisions." It also said that the supreme court has appellate jurisdiction over such “final (and) appealable” rulings from the commission.
"In a legitimate exercise of its constitutional authority, the Legislature created an inferior court when it gave the Commission the power and authority to make decisions that are ‘conclusive and binding,'” the majority opinion reads.
The court's dissenting opinion contended that workers comp commission decisions are "not equivalent to a final judgment of a court" because the commission is an administrative agency. It said the Mississippi Circuit Court system was the proper court of appeals for workers comp cases prior to last year's amendment.
“While the full Commission is quasijudicial in nature and, thus, is imbued with some indicia of a court of record, its orders are not decisions rendered ‘by a court clothed with judicial authority and acting in a judicial capacity,'” the dissent reads.
Mr. Johnson's case was assigned to the Mississippi Court of Appeals for further proceedings.
RALEIGH, N.C.—A middle-school principal who was shot while talking on an employer-provided cellphone while commuting to work is entitled to workers compensation benefits, North Carolina's Court of Appeals has ruled.