FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION NO. 13-06425,
DISTRICT "8" Honorable Diane R. Lundeen,
Workers' Compensation Judge
William R. Mustian, III STANGA & MUSTIAN, A PLC COUNSEL
C. Toups, Jr. Grant & Barrow COUNSEL FOR
composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Joy Cossich
Lobrano, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods
COSSICH LOBRANO, JUDGE
workers' compensation case, defendant/appellant, the
Jefferson Parish School Board (the "school board"),
appeals the December 17, 2015 and March 22, 2016 judgments of
the Office of Workers' Compensation ("OWC"),
which denied the school board a credit for its payment of
sabbatical leave benefits to plaintiff/appellee, Tamara Bay
("Bay"), and awarded penalties and attorney's
fees to Bay.
August 1, 2012, Bay was injured in the course and scope of
her employment with the school board as a teacher when she
fell from a bookcase and struck her head on a desk. Following
the work-related accident, the school board initiated
temporary total disability ("TTD") benefits at a
weekly compensation rate of $594.22, based on an average
weekly wage of $891.33.
receiving TTD benefits, Bay also requested and received sick
leave benefits from the school board. Sick leave benefits
were paid on a prorated basis as provided by La. R.S. 17:1201
and 17:1202, such that, through the combination of TTD
benefits and sick leave benefits, Bay was paid her full
pre-injury salary until her sick leave was exhausted.
no available sick leave remained, Bay sought to supplement
her TTD benefits with sabbatical leave pay under La. R.S.
17:1170, et seq. Bay requested that she be placed on
sabbatical leave for the fall 2013 semester, which was
granted and became effective on August 7, 2013. The school board
stopped Bay's TTD benefits when it initiated her
sabbatical leave pay.
August 16, 2013, the school board issued a notice of payment,
Form LDOL-WC-1002 ("1002"), stating that
workers' compensation benefits were stopped on August 7,
2013, because Bay was paid her salary in lieu of compensation
while on employer-funded sabbatical leave.
September 6, 2013, Bay filed a disputed claim for
compensation, Form LDOL-WC-1008 (the "disputed
claim" or "1008"), alleging that the school
board had terminated or reduced her TTD benefits on August 6,
2013. In her disputed claim, Bay alleged that she was
entitled to penalties and attorney's fees.
school board issued a new 1002 on September 23, 2013, stating
that it modified Bay's TTD benefits based on her receipt
of "employer funded disability benefits at the rate of
$2, 510.57 per month." According to the 1002, the school
board instituted TTD benefits in the amount of $14.86 per
week retroactive to August 7, 2013. The weekly payments of
$14.86 represented the difference between Bay's weekly
compensation rate and sabbatical leave pay.
October 16, 2013, Bay returned to work, at which time she
resumed receiving her salary and was no longer eligible for
case proceeded to trial on February 13, 2014, where the
primary issue before the OWC was whether the school board was
entitled to a credit or offset which would reduce the amount
of TTD benefits due to Bay by the amount of sabbatical leave
pay she received. No live witnesses were presented at trial,
the parties filed joint stipulations, and the matter was
submitted on briefs.
December 17, 2015,  the OWC rendered judgment finding that Bay
was entitled to receive full TTD benefits in addition to her
sabbatical leave pay for the period of August 8, 2013 through
October 15, 2013 and that the school board was not entitled
to a credit for its payment of sabbatical leave. The OWC
ordered the school board to pay $5, 314.40 in satisfaction of
its underpayment of TTD benefits from August 8, 2013 through
October 15, 2013, as well as $2, 000.00 in penalties and $2,
500.00 in attorney's fees pursuant to La. R.S.
the school board filed a motion for new trial. On March 22,
2016, the OWC rendered judgment granting a new trial, in
part, correcting the date of the signing of judgment from
2013 to 2015. The judgment on new trial also revised the
trial judgment to include language clarifying that Bay
"was entitled to receive full temporary total disability
benefits while receiving Sabbatical Pay for the periods from
August 8, 2013, through October 15, 2013" and the school
board "was not entitled to a credit or offset against
Tamara Bay's Temporary Total Disability benefits pursuant
to Louisiana Revised Statute 23:1225 or Louisiana Revised Statute
23:1206." The OWC denied the new trial, in
part, "as to all other parts of the judgment ...