Court of Appeals of Texas, Beaumont.
Lisa ATKINS–JANUARY, Appellant
STATE OFFICE OF RISK MANAGEMENT, Appellee
Submitted on June 20, 2017
Opinion Delivered August 3, 2017
On Appeal from the 60th District Court, Jefferson County, Texas, Trial Cause No. B–197,001. Honorable Judge Gary Sanderson.
Attorneys & Firms
Lisa Atkins–January, Port Arthur, Pro Se.
Ken Paxton, Attorney General, Jeffrey C. Mateer, First Assistant Attorney General, Jose A. Valtzar, Assistant Attorney General, for Appellee.
Before Johnson, JJ.
LEANNE JOHNSON, Justice
*1 Lisa Atkins–January (January or Appellant) filed this appeal complaining of an order granting summary judgment in favor of the Texas State Office of Risk Management (SORM or Appellee) and dismissing all of Appellant’s workers’ compensation claims with prejudice. We affirm.
January is a former employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). SORM serves as the workers’ compensation insurance carrier for TDCJ. On November 17, 2012, while employed by TDCJ, 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 (“the Division”) concluded as follows:
The credible evidence established that the compensable injury includes a right knee internal derangement and an HNP at L4–L5.
On December 16, 2014, the hearing officer signed a decision and order that contained findings of fact and conclusions of law. The decision explained that
[t]he claimant did not present a doctor’s testimony or written statement which explains how the on-the-job accident/mechanism of injury caused or aggravated these two conditions. As a result, she failed to prove that the compensable injury includes left knee internal derangement or an HNP at L4–L5.
The Appeals Panel of the Division subsequently affirmed the hearing officer’s decision and order, making the hearing officer’s decision the “final decision” effective March 9, 2015.
January then filed the instant lawsuit in April of 2015, seeking judicial review of the Division’s final decision with respect to the extent of her injuries caused by the on-the-job accident in 2012. SORM filed an answer and propounded written discovery seeking, in relevant part, information related to the causation of January’s claimed conditions.
SORM filed a no-evidence motion for summary judgment in August of 2016, after the applicable discovery period had expired. Therein, SORM argued that
... no evidence has been produced or disclosed and none exists[ ] which could support the conclusion, within a reasonable degree of medical probability, that the conditions claimed by the Plaintiff of left Rule 166a(i) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
January filed no response to the motion for summary judgment. After a hearing, the trial court entered a “Final Summary Judgment” granting summary judgment in favor of SORM, affirming the final decision of the Division and “dispos[ing] of all claims and all parties[.]” Appellant timely filed a notice of appeal.
*2 Initially, we note that we must construe Appellant’s brief liberally as Appellant appears pro se in this appeal. See Mansfield State Bank v. Cohn, 573 S.W.2d 181, 184–85 (Tex. 1978)).
Under the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure, an appellant’s brief is required to contain “a clear and concise argument for the contentions made, with appropriate citations to authorities and to the record.” Nguyen v. Kosnoski, 93 S.W.3d 186, 188 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, no pet.). Our sister court has explained as follows:
It is the Appellant’s burden to discuss her assertions of error. An appellate court has no duty—or even right—to perform an independent review of the record and applicable law to determine whether there was error. Were we to do so, even on behalf of a pro se appellant, we would be abandoning our role as neutral adjudicators and become an advocate for that party.
In this matter, Appellant’s brief consists of one page that does not identify a legal issue and does not assert a point of error supported by “clear and concise” argument.1 Moreover, Appellant has provided no record references nor any citations to relevant legal authority. We conclude that, due to the inadequacy of her brief, Appellant has waived her issues on appeal. See Washington, 362 S.W.3d at 854–55.
Appellant attaches numerous exhibits to her brief. A reviewing court may not consider evidence that was not before the trial court at the time it made its decision. See In re K.M., 401 S.W.3d 864, 866 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] 2013, no pet.).