Appealed from the Office of Workers' Compensation, District 1-E Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana. Trial Court No. 1206525. Brenza Irving Jones, Workers' Compensation Judge.
STREET & STREET, By: C. Daniel Street, Counsel for Appellant.
HUDSON, POTTS & BERNSTEIN, By: Brian P. Bowes, Counsel for Appellee.
Before BROWN, STEWART and LOLLEY, JJ.
[49,582 La.App. 2 Cir. 1]
The claimant, Donna Sue Royals (" Royals" ), is appealing a judgment of the Office of Workers' Compensation that rejected her claim for permanent total disability (" PTD" ) benefits, as well as penalties and attorney fees. For the reasons discussed in this opinion, we affirm.
Royals was hired by the Town of Richwood (" Richwood" ) to work at Richwood High School as a resource officer during the 2002-2003 school year. On September 9, 2002, Royals twisted her right knee while stepping out of her patrol car after making a perimeter check of the school. The next day, she further injured her knee in the restroom at the police station. Royals' family doctor sent her to the hospital to obtain treatment for her injured knee.
In late November of 2002, Royals began seeing Dr. Douglas Brown, an orthopedic surgeon, who suspected that she was suffering from a torn meniscus. Dr. Brown performed arthorscopic surgery on Royals' injured knee on December 28, 2002. Royals was released to return to work on January 13, 2003, as a dispatcher. After Royals continued to complain of pain, a total knee replacement was recommended and performed on January 14, 2005. On May 11, 2005, Dr. Brown released Royals to modified work. On August 17, 2005, Dr. Brown gave Royals a full release to return to her previous position. Royals never returned to work.
This matter has been brought before this court on two previous occasions. In Royals v. Town of Richwood, 38,738 (La.App. 2d Cir. 8/18/04), 880 So.2d 208, Richwood initially discontinued Royals' benefits [49,582 La.App. 2 Cir. 2] after determining that she was not injured arising out of and during the course and scope of her employment. Royals filed a disputed claim for compensation. The Workers' Compensation Judge (" WCJ" ) found that Royals was temporarily totally disabled (" TTD" ) from September 12, 2002, through October 15, 2002, and from December 28, 2002, through January 13, 2003, awarding TTD benefits in the amount of $200 per week. Royals was also awarded supplemental earnings benefits (" SEB" ) from January 13, 2003, until she was released to full duty. Penalties were also imposed on Richwood. This court deleted one of the penalties but otherwise affirmed the WCJ's judgment awarding Royals benefits with penalties and attorney fees.
Richwood subsequently paid her TTD benefits and SEB until August 17, 2005, when Dr. Brown fully released her to work. As a result, Royals filed a disputed claim for compensation, seeking reimbursement for mileage, medical expenses, and additional medical treatment. The WCJ denied Royals any further SEB, her claims for reimbursement, and claims for medical expenses. Richwood was assessed a penalty for nonpayment after receiving proof of claim. In Royals v. Town of Richwood, 42,585 (La.App. 2d Cir. 10/24/07), 968 So.2d 833, this court reversed the portion of the WCJ's judgment denying Royals SEB. Again, Richwood paid her SEB until September 12, 2012, when those benefits were terminated on the grounds that the 520-week limit was reached.
In the present matter before this court, the WCJ denied Royals benefits after determining that she failed to prove that she is totally and permanently disabled. In its oral reasons for judgment, the WCJ noted:
[49,582 La.App. 2 Cir. 3] In this case, the evidence is overwhelmingly clear. It is not the injury claimant sustained on September 9, 2002, that is producing her current disability. Instead her disability is the result of ...