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Shailow v. Gulf Coast Social Services

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

June 10, 2015

LOIS J. SHAILOW
v.
GULF COAST SOCIAL SERVICES, ET AL

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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APPEAL FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION - # 3, PARISH OF CALCASIEU, NO. 13-01328. SAM L. LOWERY, WORKERS' COMPENSATION JUDGE.

Marcus Miller Zimmerman, Lake Charles, LA, COUNSEL FOR: Plaintiff/Appellee - Lois J. Shailow.

Eric J. Waltner, Allen & Gooch, Lafayette, LA, COUNSEL FOR: Defendants/Appellants - LUBA Casualty Insurance Company and Gulf Coast Social Services.

Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Billy Howard Ezell, and Shannon J. Gremillion, Judges.

OPINION

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[15-91 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] ULYSSES GENE THIBODEAUX, Judge.

Defendants Gulf Coast Social Services and LUBA Casualty Insurance Company (collectively " Gulf Coast" ) appeal an Office of Workers' Compensation judgment in favor of Claimant Lois Shailow. Ms. Shailow sustained injury in a work-related car accident caused by a third party (" tortfeasor" ) who thereafter paid Ms. Shailow a lump sum pursuant to a settlement agreement. Following the accident, Ms. Shailow worked for approximately one year and then terminated employment. She then filed a workers' compensation claim seeking medical and indemnity benefits. Gulf Coast answered and filed an exception of prescription in regard to the medical benefits claim. The workers' compensation judge (" WCJ" ) denied the exception. The WCJ found the tortfeasor's payment of settlement monies amounted to a voluntary payment of medical expenses, pursuant to La.R.S. 23:1209(C), which interrupted prescription as to Gulf Coast, a solidary obligor.

At trial, the WCJ further found Gulf Coast liable for medical benefits, indemnity benefits, and penalties and attorney fees. Because we find that a third-party tortfeasor's voluntary payment of medical expenses does not serve to interrupt prescription as to a solidarily-liable employer, we reverse the WCJ's judgment that the medical benefits claim had not prescribed and vacate the penalty awarded for failure to pay on this claim. A review of the record reveals no manifest error in regard to the remainder of the WCJ's contested findings, which we affirm.

I.

ISSUES

We must determine:

[15-91 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] (1) whether the WCJ erred in finding Ms. Shailow's claim for indemnity benefits had not prescribed;
(2) whether the law of the case doctrine bars review of the issue of prescription in regard to the medical benefits claim and, if not, whether the WCJ erred in finding Ms. Shailow's claim

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for medical benefits had not prescribed;
(3) whether the WCJ erred in finding Ms. Shailow proved causation between her work accident and injury;
(4) whether the WCJ erred in its award and calculation of penalties and attorney fees; and
(5) whether Ms. Shailow is entitled to attorney fees for work done on this appeal.

II.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY


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