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Freeman v. West Fraser, Inc.

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 10, 2014

HOUSTON FREEMAN, JR.
v.
WEST FRASER, INC

APPEAL fro THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION - # 2, PARISH OF GRANT, NO. 11-09477. JAMES L. BRADDOCK, WORKERS' COMPENSATION JUDGE.

REVERSED IN PART; AFFIRMED IN PART; AND RENDERED.

John Craig Jones, Attorney at Law, Oakdale, LA, FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE: Houston Freeman, Jr.

John Joseph Rabalais, Heather W. Blackburn, Rabalais, Unland & Lorio, Covington, LA, FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: West Fraser, Inc.

Court composed of Marc T. Amy, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Billy Howard Ezell, Judges.

OPINION

Page 793

[14-691 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] PICKETT, Judge.

West Fraser, Inc. appeals a judgment of the trial court finding Houston Freeman sustained a compensable injury and awarding workers' compensation benefits, penalties, and attorney fees.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Freeman suffered a contusion to his hip when he fell at work on December 28, 2010. His doctor released him to light-duty work in late February 2011. West Fraser offered him a position as a security guard checking in trucks beginning on March 7, 2011, where he only had to do limited walking. Freeman worked twelve hours the first day, and then four hours on the next day before he claimed the pain to

Page 794

his hip was too great to continue. West Fraser offered him a position where he had to do no walking, but Freeman never replied to their offer. Freeman claimed he never received notice of the new position but told his cardiologist that he suffered heart problems because of the stress associated with his employer calling him back to work. His cardiologist indicated he was unable to work from March 24, 2011 through May 17, 2011, due to shortness of breath and chest pain. West Fraser cut off Freeman's benefits effective March 2, 2011.

On May 3, 2011, Dr. Mark Dodson, Freeman's treating physician for his hip injury, indicated in response to a query that he agreed with the opinion of a second doctor that Freeman's hematoma to his hip had completely resolved. He also agreed with the suggestion of a work-hardening program. Dr. Dodson also prescribed treatment for Freeman with a pain management specialist. Freeman eventually completed the work-conditioning program. On September 19, 2011, Dr. Dodson stated that Freeman had reached maximum medical improvement. He [14-691 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] began treating with a pain management specialist in January 2012, continuing through October 2012.

The workers' compensation judge (WCJ) found that Freeman suffered a workplace injury on December 28, 2010. The WCJ awarded temporary total disability (TTD) benefits from March 2, 2011 through September 19, 2011, and supplemental earnings benefits (SEB) from September 20, 2011. The WCJ found that West Fraser was responsible for the pain management treatment prescribed by Dr. Dodson. The WCJ found that Freeman did not commit fraud by giving false information for the purpose of receiving benefits. Finally, the WCJ assessed a penalty of $4,000.00 against ...


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