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Brown v. A M Logging

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit

December 23, 2014

JOSEPH BROWN
v.
A M LOGGING AND ALTERNATIVE SERVICE CONCEPTS, L.L.C

ON APPEAL FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION NUMBER 12-07427, DIST. 6, PARISH OF TANGIPAHOA, STATE OF LOUISIANA. GWENDOLYN F. THOMPSON, OWC.

Isaac H. Soileau, Jr., Ryan A. Jurkovic, New Orleans, Louisiana, Counsel for Appellant, Joseph Brown.

John A. Keller, Madisonville, Louisiana, Counsel for Appellees, AM Logging and Louisiana Safety, Association of Timbermen--Self, Insurance Fund.

BEFORE: KUHN, PETTIGREW, AND WELCH, JJ.

OPINION

[2014 0786 La.App. 1 Cir. 2] KUHN, J.

Claimant-appellant, Joseph Brown, appeals a judgment rendered by the Louisiana Office of Workers' Compensation (OWC), sustaining a peremptory exception raising the objections of no right and/or no cause of action asserted by defendants-appellees, A M Logging, Brown's employer, and Louisiana Safety Association of Timbermen, Self Insurance Fund (Timbermen). Under our supervisory power, we

Page 624

convert the appeal to a writ, deny the relief sought, and affirm OWC's judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

For purposes of the exception, the following facts were undisputed. Brown sustained an injury on October 10, 2005, while in the course and scope of his employment with A M Logging. As he cut a tree, it " kicked back" on him, and he averred that he sustained injuries to his shoulder, ribs, chest, back, and neck. In 2009, Brown filed a disputed claim for workers' compensation, seeking indemnity benefits, penalties, and attorney's fees. OWC awarded Brown indemnity benefits based on a finding of permanent and total disability, penalties, attorney's fees, costs, and legal interest on the indemnity benefits, penalties, and attorney's fees. A M Logging appealed to this court, and we affirmed the awards of benefits but we reversed the award of penalties and attorney's fees, concluding that A M Logging had reasonably controverted the claim. See Brown v. A M Logging, 2010-1440 (La.App. 1st Cir. 8/4/11), 76 So.3d 486.

On November 8, 2011, Brown's attorney received a letter from the State of Louisiana, Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), advising that because the Medicaid Program had paid $9,752.90 in medical bills related to the October 10, 2005 accident on behalf of Brown, DHH had acquired a privilege for payments made on Brown's behalf. The letter further apprised Brown's attorney that the privilege subjected all persons " plaintiff and defendant, their attorneys and insurers ... who are [2014 0786 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] placed on notice of the privilege ... to personal liability for the patient's bill ... if any money subject to the privilege is paid to the claimant without first reimbursing Medicaid" the amount of $9,752.90.[1]

On October 24, 2012, Brown filed a 1008 disputed claim form, averring that as a result of the October 2005 accident, he was entitled to penalties and attorney's fees for, among other things, defendants' failure " to pay medical bills (Medicaid lien)." [2] Subsequently, defendants filed exceptions raising objections of no right of action and no cause of action to this claim by Brown. After a hearing, OWC sustained the exceptions and, on January 3, 2014, issued a judgment, dismissing Brown's claims for penalties and attorney's fees arising out of defendants' failure to pay the medical expenses associated with the Medicaid privilege. This appeal by Brown followed.

DISCUSSION

Initially we note that although owe sustained an exception, in part as to one or more but less than all of Brown's claims, it did not designate the judgment as final after an express determination that there was no just reason for delay and, as such, its ruling is an interlocutory judgment. See La. C.C.P. art. 1915B. At oral argument, the parties advised the court that a subsequent final judgment disposing of all other claims had been rendered and an appeal of that judgment has been lodged with this court. The claim in the appealed judgment ...


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