from the Office of Workers' Compensation, District 1-E
Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 13-03025
Brenza Irving Jones Workers' Compensation Judge
JOHNSON, RAHMAN & THOMAS Jeffrey J. Warrens Counsel for
& STREET C. Daniel Street Counsel for Appellee
BROWN, DREW, and LOLLEY, JJ.
workers' compensation proceeding, the employer and its
insurer appeal the award of attorney fees and the assessment
of a penalty for its failure to approve a lumbar spine MRI
recommended by the claimant's physician. The claimant has
answered the appeal, contending that the attorney fee awarded
was abusively low, as well as to seek additional attorney
fees for this appeal.
amend the judgment to increase the attorney fee award to $7,
500, and affirm the judgment as amended. We also award an
additional attorney fee of $2, 500 to claimant for work on
Arrant, who was employed by Wayne Acree PLS, Inc., as a
surveyor, was injured on June 30, 2012, when his work vehicle
was struck by an 18-wheeler. Arrant testified that when he
told Wayne Acree after the accident that his back was
hurting, Acree said they would discuss it when Arrant
returned to work following the weekend. Acree denied that
Arrant complained of injury after the accident. Arrant
further testified that upon returning to work on Monday, he
told Acree that he would like to see a doctor and have his
back examined, but Acree replied that he did not have his
insurance information. Acree testified that Arrant did not
start complaining about his back until August 1, 2012, and
even then, he did not ask to see a doctor.
met with attorney Philip Deal on August 2, 2012. Arrant told
Deal that his condition had worsened as he continued to work.
Arrant reported that his lower back was hurting, he was
beginning to have shooting pain down the back of his legs
into his feet, and he had tingling all the way down to his
toes. Based on Deal's experience handling personal injury
cases, he felt that Arrant's complaints indicated a
lumbar disc injury, and that Arrant needed to see a doctor
and undergo a lumbar MRI to determine if he was experiencing
nerve damage. Deal contacted the office of orthopedic surgeon
Dr. Douglas Brown, and an appointment was scheduled for
instructed Arrant on August 2 to tell Acree that he had
scheduled an appointment with Dr. Brown because his back was
getting worse and he needed medical treatment, and that he
needed the name of Acree's workers' comp insurer.
Because Deal, Arrant, and Dr. Brown's office were
unsuccessful in obtaining the name of Acree's
workers' comp insurer, Deal had to provide a $600 check
to Dr. Brown in order for Arrant to be examined as scheduled.
Arrant received a couple of injections from Dr. Brown during
the August 16 examination. Dr. Brown also recommended a
lumbar MRI because he suspected that Arrant had a lumbar disc
Acree's insurer, denied the request for the lumbar MRI.
On September 17, 2012, the medical director of the Office of
Workers' Compensation ("OWC") reviewed the
request and also denied it. Dr. Brown continued to see
Arrant, who underwent a few weeks of physical therapy. Dr.
Brown again requested a lumbar MRI, which was again denied by
LWCC. The OWC medical director denied the second request on
October 18, 2012. Deal paid $800 for the MRI to be performed
because he remained concerned about possible nerve damage.
1, 2013, Arrant filed a Form 1008 asserting that Acree and
LWCC had refused to provide a lumbar MRI and a left S1 nerve
block recommended by Dr. Brown. Arrant sought penalties and
attorney fees. Arrant filed two amended 1008s concerning his
initial examination by Dr. Brown, the recommended MRI for
which Deal had to pay $800, and examination by his
neurosurgeon of choice, Dr. Bernie McHugh.
2, 2013, LWCC and Acree filed an answer asserting that Arrant
did not need its approval to see Dr. Brown since he had the
right to choose his treating physician without prior
approval, that LWCC was not required to pay the $600 deposit