LORI M. JONES,
North Carolina Industrial
Commission I.C. No. 187952
NEW HANOVER COUNTY SCHOOLS,
KEY RISK INSURANCE COMPANY,
Law Offices of Kathleen G. Sumner, by Kathleen G. Sumner, for
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General Patrick S. Wooten, for defendant-appellant.
Defendant (New Hanover County Schools) appeals an Opinion and Award of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, awarding certain benefits to plaintiff Lori Jones. We affirm in part and reverse in part.
The relevant facts are summarized as follows: In September 1998 defendant hired plaintiff as a teacher's assistant in a special education classroom, a position that plaintiff continued tohold during the 2001-2002 school year. On 11 October 2001 plaintiff suffered a compensable injury as a result of the violent behavior of a student in the class. In November 2001, plaintiff filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits, and a request for a hearing before the Industrial Commission. Defendant accepted plaintiff's claim as compensable on a medical only basis, but asserted that plaintiff was not entitled to disability benefits. Following a hearing, Deputy Commissioner Brad Donovan issued an opinion and award on 30 January 2004. The commissioner ruled that: (1) plaintiff failed to demonstrate entitlement to disability benefits; (2) plaintiff was entitled to benefits under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-338, for injury to a school employee as a result of violence; (3) plaintiff was entitled to medical benefits; and (4) plaintiff was not entitled to disability benefits for time lost from employment other than with defendant.
Plaintiff appealed to the Full Commission, which issued an Opinion and Award on 7 February 2005, awarding plaintiff medical benefits, attorney's fees, and benefits under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-338. The Commission also awarded plaintiff temporary total disability benefits as compensation for her lost summer earnings in a family commercial fishing business; plaintiff had testified that, as a result of her compensable injury, she had been unable to work in the fishing industry during the summer of 2002. Commissioner Buck Lattimore dissented from this part of the award, arguing that plaintiff was not entitled to disability benefits from a job otherthan her employment with defendant. From this order, defendant timely appealed.
(c) (1) . . . Each assignment of error shall, so
far as practicable, be confined to a single
issue of law; and shall state plainly,
concisely and without argumentation the legal
basis upon which error is assigned. . . .
N.C.R. App. P. 10(a) and (c)(1). Thus, the scope of appellate review is limited to the issues presented by assignments of error set out in the record on appeal; where the issue presented in the appellant's brief does not correspond to a proper assignment of error, the matter is not properly considered by the appellate court. Bustle v. Rice, 116 N.C. App. 658, 659, 449 S.E.2d 10, 11 (1994) (citation omitted). Assignments of error that are 'broad, vague, and unspecific . . . do not comply with the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure[.]' Walker v. Walker, __ N.C. App. __, __, 624 S.E.2d 639, 641 (2005) (quoting In re Appeal of Lane Co., 153 N.C. App. 119, 123, 571 S.E.2d 224, 226-27 (2002)). Defendant herein made two assignments of error:
1. Whether Industrial Commission erred in ordering the payment of temporary total disability benefits pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-29 under a misapprehension of law.
2. Whether Industrial Commission erred in ordering the payment of temporary total disability benefits pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-29 for alleged time lost from a second job, unrelated to plaintiff's employment with Defendant-Employer.
We conclude that defendant's first assignment of error, that the Commission's award of disability benefits was made under a misapprehension of law, is so vague as to be meaningless, and failed to preserve any issue for appellate review:
Defendant's assertion that a given . . . ruling was erroneous as a matter of law completely fails to identify the issues actually briefed on appeal. . . . Defendant's series of generic assertions that the trial court's findings and conclusions were erroneous as a matter of law essentially amount to no more than an allegation that the court erred because its ruling was erroneous.
Walker, __ N.C. App. at __, 624 S.E.2d at 642 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Regarding defendant's second assignment of error, we conclude it adequately preserves for appellate review the issue of whether the Industrial Commission erred by awarding plaintiff disability benefits for a summer job for an employer other than defendant.
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