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Washington v. Louisiana-I Gaming

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

December 23, 2014

LETRESS WASHINGTON
v.
LOUISIANA-I GAMING, A LOUISIANA PARTNERSHIP IN COMMENDAM D/B/A BOOMTOWN CASINO

          ON APPEAL FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION, DISTRICT 7, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 13-4863, HONORABLE SYLVIA T. DUNN, JUDGE PRESIDING.

         JOSEPH G. ALBE, ATTORNEY AT LAW, New Orleans, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.

         WADE A. LANGLOIS, III, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.

         Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Jude G. Gravois, Marc E. Johnson, Robert A. Chaisson, and Hans J. Liljeberg. JOHNSON, J., DISSENTS IN PART WITH REASONS.

          OPINION

Page 20

          HANS J. LILJEBERG, J.

          [14-467 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] Defendant-Employer, Louisiana -I Gaming, A Louisiana Partnership in Commendam d/b/a Boomtown Casino (" Boomtown" ), appeals the decision of the Office

Page 21

of Workers' Compensation granting medical benefits, supplemental earning benefits, penalties, and attorney's fees to claimant, Letress Washington. For the following reasons, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

         Procedural History

         On July 13 and 15, 2013, claimant filed two disputed claims for workers' compensation relative to two slip-and-fall accidents, asserting that no benefits were being authorized by defendant-employer, Boomtown. On September 9, 2013, the matters were consolidated. On October 23, 2013, the parties entered into a consent judgment, which ordered Boomtown to authorize and pay for an initial evaluation and report of Dr. F. Allen Johnston and Dr. William Alden. A trial on the merits was heard on November 25, 2013, before the Office of Workers' Compensation. [14-467 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] On January 24, 2014, the workers' compensation judge rendered judgment in favor of claimant. Boomtown now appeals.

         Facts

         The basic facts of this case are undisputed. Claimant previously was employed by the Marriott Hotel for 37 years in a supervisory, janitorial role. At the age of 62, claimant retired and collected Social Security retirement benefits. Claimant thereafter became restless with retirement and sought employment with Boomtown, located on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish. Boomtown hired claimant on March 23, 2013, to work in the capacity of a cook. Claimant's essential functions as a cook required that she " lift, carry, and push/pull up to 50 pounds so as to be able to move and stock all necessary supplies."

         At trial, the parties stipulated that claimant sustained injuries in two slip-and-fall accidents while employed with Boomtown. The first incident occurred on May 5, 2013, when she slipped on a wet, kitchen floor. Claimant testified that her lower back, neck, and right shoulder were bruised and sore. Claimant reported the incident to Boomtown and was sent to West Jefferson Industrial Medical Center for treatment, where she was diagnosed as having a contusion of the hand and a lumbar strain. Claimant testified that the doctor took X-rays and prescribed Ibuprofen for the pain and released her back to full duty work. Claimant was unsatisfied with the doctor's treatment and went to see her primary care physician, Dr. Allen Brown, on May 7, 2013. Dr. Brown explained to claimant that he did not handle workers' compensation claims, but ultimately wrote her a slip that she could not lift over 15 pounds until May 13, 2013. Claimant testified that she did not give the slip to Boomtown and returned to her regular duties. She testified that she was able to complete most of her duties with a little help with the lifting from [14-467 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] fellow employees; however, she still complained of soreness in her lower back, neck, and right hand.

         The second incident occurred on July 6, 2013. Claimant explained that she slipped on the wet, dish room in a similar fashion to the previous accident. Claimant testified that she could not immediately stand and required assistance, but did not go to the hospital. Claimant did not immediately seek a doctor until after consulting with her attorney. Claimant thereafter saw Dr. Alden upon her attorney's referral on July 10, 2013. Dr. Alden ordered physical therapy, prescribed pain medication, and returned claimant to light duty work only.

         Claimant further testified that prior to the second incident, she decided that she wished to retire and gave her two-weeks-notice to Boomtown. She explained that she did not like Boomtown's kitchen and did not like working the graveyard shift. After the second incident, claimant did not

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contact Boomtown regarding the accident, nor did she return ...


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