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Davis v. GMTG Shreveport

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Second Circuit

February 26, 2015

BETTY DAVIS, Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
GMTG SHREVEPORT, Defendant-Appellee

Appealed from the Office of Workers' Compensation, District 1W, Parish of Caddo, Louisiana. Docket No. 09-09395. Patrick F. Robinson, Worker's Compensation Judge.

AFFIRMED.

BETTY DAVIS, In Proper Person.

J. MARTIN LATTIER, Counsel for Appellee.

Before BROWN, CARAWAY and MOORE, JJ.

OPINION

Page 523

[49,645 La.app. 2 Cir.1] MOORE, J.

The pro se claimant, Betty Davis, appeals a judgment that rejected her claim for permanent total disability (" PTD" ) benefits. For the reasons expressed, we affirm.

Ms. Davis, who had worked at Shreveport's GM plant since 1979, injured both shoulders on October 30, 1999, when she was trying to place a " body bag" over a vehicle. GM conceded that the injury was work-related, and began paying her indemnity benefits of $384.00 a week. Ms. Davis has not worked since the injury. GM provided arthroscopic surgeries to repair both her rotator cuffs, the right in February 2000 and the left in June 2005.

In addition to her shoulder injury, Ms. Davis had a host of other physical and psychological issues, and has received almost continuous treatment for low back pain, neck pain, leg and knee pain, trigger fingers, varicose veins, chest pains and general pain syndrome. She received varicose vein surgery in 2007 and a total knee replacement in March 2009, but has declined recommended neck and back surgeries. She has received treatment from pain specialists and been counseled about the overuse of narcotic prescription drugs.

In August 2009, GM's National Benefits Center advised Ms. Davis that her indemnity benefits would terminate on November 1, 2009, as that date would mark the 520-week maximum allowed.

Ms. Davis, pro se, filed this disputed claim on November 9, 2009, seeking PTD benefits.[1] GM responded that she was not PTD, and at any rate, she had been drawing disability pension benefits of $1,030 a month for [49,645 La.app. 2 Cir. 2] years, creating an offset against any indemnity benefits she may be entitled to receive. Mediation efforts foundered, and GM obtained orders for her to undergo a functional capacity evaluation (" FCE" ) and a second medical opinion. At some point, Ms. Davis hired counsel, who argued that GM never properly reclassified her benefits from PTD to supplemental earnings benefits, and thus the 520-week limit did not apply.

The case came to trial in January 2014. Ms. Davis was the only live witness. She described the accident and her shoulder surgeries; she admitted drawing disability benefits from GM since 2000, but said she was not having back and knee trouble at that time. On cross-examination, she insisted that ...


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