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Brown v. A M Logging & Alternative Service Concepts, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

June 18, 2015

JOSEPH BROWN
v.
A M LOGGING & ALTERNATIVE SERVICE CONCEPTS, LLC

Appealed from The office of Workers' Compensation Administration District 6 Parish of Tangipahoa State of Louisiana Case No. 12-07427 The Honorable Gwendolyn F. Thompson, Judge Presiding

Isaac H. Soileau, Jr. Ryan A. Jurkovic Counsel for Plaintiff/ Appellant Joseph Brown New Orleans, Louisiana

John A. Keller Madisonville, Louisiana Counsel for Defendant/ Appellee AMLogging

BEFORE: GUIDRY, THERIOT, AND DRAKE, JJ.

THERIOT, J.

In this suit arising from a disputed claim for compensation, the plaintiff appeals the judgment of the Office of Workers' Compensation, Sixth District. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On October 10, 2005, Joseph Brown was injured in a logging accident during the course and scope of his employment with A M Logging. He filed a disputed claim for compensation on October 19, 2005 against A M Logging and its claims administrator, Alternative Service Concepts, LLC (referred to collectively as appellees). Mr. Brown did not provide any specifics about his injuries. A M Logging submitted a report of the injury to the Office of Workers' Compensation (OWC) on July 14, 2006, which listed injuries to Mr. Brown's collar bone, left ribs, and back. Mr. Brown filed a second disputed claim for compensation on July 24, 2009, wherein he listed injuries to his shoulder, ribs, back, chest, and neck.

Following the hearing on Brown's claims, the OWC signed a March 29, 2010 judgment, which ordered that: 1) Brown sustained a compensable work-related injury on October 10, 2005, in the course and scope of his employment with A M Logging; 2) Brown's compensation rate is the statutory minimum amount of $121.00 per week; 3) Brown is permanently and totally disabled as a result of his work-related accident; 4) pursuant to La. R.S. 23:1226(D), there is no reasonable probability that Brown can be rehabilitated through training or education to the extent that he can attain suitable gainful employment and such training or education would not be in his best interest[1]; 5) A M Logging shall pay Brown permanent total disability benefits in the amount of $121.00 per week, retroactive to December 7, 2008, and continuing; 6) pursuant to La. R.S. 23:1201(1), A M Logging shall pay Brown $5, 000.00.[2]

The appellees filed an appeal of the aforementioned judgment and posted a suspensive appeal bond. This Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the OWC's judgment in Brown v. AM Logging, 2010-1440 (La.App. 1 Cir. 8/4/11), 76 So.3d 486.[3] The OWC's judgment became final on October 20, 2011. See La. C.C.P. art. 2166(A).

Once the OWC's judgment was final, the parties initiated negotiations for payment of past due benefits. An agreement was reached in which a joint motion to release the suspensive appeal bond would be filed in order to release to Mr. Brown the agreed-upon sum of $14, 543.29 in past due payments. The joint motion stipulated that the payment to Mr. Brown would be in full satisfaction of the judgment as to past due sums. The OWC granted the joint motion on November 28, 2011.

Mr. Brown filed a third disputed claim for compensation on October 24, 2012, that is at issue in the instant appeal. Mr. Brown claimed that in his logging accident he sustained injuries to his shoulder, ribs, chest, back, and neck. He further claimed that the appellees violated La. R.S. 23:1201 by failing to authorize medical treatment and pay medical expenses. Mr. Brown claimed the appellees also violated La. R.S. 23:1333 by failing to timely pay wage indemnity after the judgment of March 29, 2010 became final on October 20, 2011. Mr. Brown amended the disputed claim for compensation on November 28, 2012, adding a claim that his employer was in violation of La. R.S. 23:1201 by failing to authorize an examination by an orthopedist of his choosing. Mr. Brown also amended his claim, wherein he alleged he was entitled to penalties and attorney fees because the appellees did not timely pay him indemnity benefits when they became due. Mr. Brown filed a third amendment to his disputed claim for compensation on May 16, 2013, adding a claim that his employer was again in violation of La. R.S. 23:1201 for failing to authorize pain management treatment authorized by his pain management physician.

Trial on the second disputed claim for compensation was held on December 11, 2013. The OWC signed a judgment in favor of the appellees on July 22, 2014, finding that Mr. Brown failed to carry his burden at trial that his pain issues with his cervical or neck area were related to his work-related accident of October 10, 2005, and that he failed to carry his burden at trial that his employer should have authorized his choice of orthopedist.[4]Mr. Brown was not awarded payment of any medical bills related to his treatment of neck pain, except for the initial diagnosis. The OWC found that the appellees did not fail to timely pay workers' compensation benefits to Mr. Brown and did not fail to pay medical benefits due Mr. Brown. It is from this judgment that Mr. Brown appeals.

ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

Mr. Brown cites four assignments of error:

1. The OWC erred in denying Mr. Brown's claim under La. R.S. 23:1201(G).
2. The OWC erred in denying Mr. Brown's claim under La. R.S. 23:1333.
3. The OWC erred in denying Mr. Brown's claim for medical treatment under La. R.S. 23:1203, related ...

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