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Malone-Watson v. Strategic Restaurants

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

June 11, 2015

ANGELA MALONE-WATSON
v.
STRATEGIC RESTAURANTS

On Appeal from the Office of Workers' Compensation, District 5 In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana No. 13-02466, The Honorable Jason Ourso, Workers' Compensation Judge Presiding

Kathleen M. Wilson Baton Rouge, LA Attorney for Plaintiff/ Appellant Angela M. Watson

Goeffrey A. Mitchell Christian B. Bogart Ryan M. Malone Metairie, LA Attorneys for Defendants/ Appellees Broadspire and Strategic Restaurants

BEFORE: McDONALD, CRAIN, AND HOLDRIDGE, JJ.

HOLDRIDGE, J.

In this workers' compensation matter, employee/claimant, Angela Malone-Watson, appeals a judgment rendered in favor of employer/defendant, Strategic Restaurants Acquisition Company, LLC, and its third-party administrator, Broadspire (collectively, "Strategic") that held Mrs. Watson forfeited her right to workers' compensation benefits under La. R.S. 23:1208 due to her willful false statements made in order to recover workers' compensation benefits. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

At issue in this workers' compensation case is whether the claimant, Mrs. Watson, willfully made false statements and representations for the purpose of obtaining benefits. Mrs. Watson filed her claim for workers' compensation benefits with the Office of Workers' Compensation Administration, against Strategic. She claims she was injured on January 25, 2013, while working as an employee at the Burger King restaurant located on Coursey Boulevard in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Mrs. Watson asserts that a co-worker left a bread tray in the walkway and she tripped over it. She filed a claim for compensation on April 10, 2013, for the alleged injury. According to the workers' compensation form, she claimed she sustained injuries to her left ankle, both knees, back, hip, and strained muscles in her left arm as a result of her trip and fall accident.

Strategic moved for summary judgment, submitting as evidence Mrs. Watson's deposition testimony and compiled video surveillance recordings, as well as other documentation. The Workers' Compensation Judge ("WCJ") granted summary judgment on March, 14, 2014, in Strategic's favor and dismissed Mrs. Watson's claim. Mrs. Watson now appeals the summary judgment rendered against her.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

An appellate court reviews a WCJ's decision to grant a motion for summary judgment de novo, using the same criteria that govern the WCJ's consideration of whether summary judgment is appropriate. Newman v. Richard Price Construction, 2002-0995 (La.App. 1st Cir. 8/8/03), 859 So.2d 136, 139. A claim under La. R.S. 23:1208 is appropriate for resolution by summary judgment. Morris v. Textron Marine & Land Sys., Inc., 2014-0293 (La.App. 1st Cir. 9/24/14), 155 So.3d 21, 23, writ denied, 2014-2223 (La. 1/9/15), 157 So.3d 1108.[1]

In Bourque v. Transit Mix, 2014-1588 (La. 12/8/14), 153 So.3d 419, 420 (per curiam) the Louisiana Supreme Court noted that the technical rules of evidence and procedure are relaxed in the context of workers' compensation hearings citing La. R.S. 23:1317(A) and Taylor v. Tommie's Gaming, 2004-2254 (La. 5/24/05), 902 So.2d 380, 383. Further, Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Article 966(F)(2) provides that:

Evidence cited in and attached to the motion for summary judgment or memorandum filed by an adverse party is deemed admitted for purposes of the motion for summary judgment unless excluded in response to an objection made in accordance with Subparagraph (3) of this Paragraph. Only evidence admitted for purposes of the motion for summary judgment may be considered by the court in its ruling on the motion.

Since Mrs. Watson made no objection to any evidence cited in or attached to the motion for summary judgment filed by Strategic, all evidence presented by Strategic was deemed admitted. Thus, the video surveillance recordings, which were filed with the motion for summary judgment, may be considered by both the WCJ and this court. Bourque held that evidence attached to defendant's motion for summary judgment was properly admitted in a motion for ...


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