Officer Establishes PTSD from Assault by Man ‘Smoking Crack,’ ‘Getting Drunk with Tupac’

09 May, 2024 Frank Ferreri


Verona, MS ( -- Is it quantity or quality that makes something better?

According to the court in City of Verona v. Moffett, No. 2022-WC-0150-COA (Miss. Ct. App. 05/07/24), when it comes to medical evidence in a workers' compensation case, quality bests quantity, and a PTSD case shows why.

A police officer for a Mississippi city was involved in a near-death assault while on duty. The incident involved an individual who had previously assaulted the officer while she was on duty. On the day at issue in this case, the individual threw what appeared to be crack cocaine on the floor and announced that he had been "smoking crack and getting drunk with Tupac all day." He then jumped up and grabbed his girlfriend's oxygen tubing out of her nose, wrapped it around his arm, and told her, "Die, bitch."

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As the officer attempted to get the oxygen tubing back, the individual grabbed her weapon and said he was going to kill everyone in the house. After a fight with the individual, the officer ended up on the floor in a fetal position, and the individual punched and kicked her in the head, neck, and shoulders for 11 minutes while the officer went in and out of consciousness.

The officer sought workers' compensation benefits after sustaining several physical injuries and developing PTSD as a result of the incident. At the time of the incident, the officer was involved in litigation related to claims of sexual harassment against her police chief. She believed that the assault occurred as the result of a "set up" by the chief and alleged that two people had previously approached her to tell that the chief was going to have her killed.

The city challenged her mental injuries and asserted that she had no loss of wage-earning capacity. An administrative judge ruled that the officer suffered a 50% loss of wage-earning capacity. On appeal, the Workers' Compensation Commission found that she actually suffered an 80% loss.

The city appealed to court, challenging the WCC's reliance on records and testimony provided by a doctor that supported the officer's case.

When it comes to medical evidence in a Mississippi workers' compensation case, when medical expert evidence conflicts, courts will affirm the commission. The test is the credibility of the experts, based on the weight of the objective proof, evidence, or results used in rendering a medical opinion.

In the officer's case, the WCC found that the supporting doctor's testimony, medical findings, and results used in rendering her opinion to be more credible, and the court found no reason to disturb this finding.

In particular, the court highlighted that:

+ The doctor was a board-certified psychiatrist who had been treating the officer for years.
+ The doctor met with the officer every few weeks and had seen her for more than 30 sessions.
+ The doctor worked alongside the officer's therapist to ensure that they were providing her with the most comprehensive treatment.
+ The doctor connected with the officer's general practitioner to get a "good understanding" of the officer's baseline level of behavior so that she could determine whether the officer was improving.

Thus, the court found that there was "substantial credible evidence" to support the WCC's decision, and it upheld the ruling in the officer's favor.

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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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