from the Office of Workers' Compensation, District 1-E
Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 14-045998
Brenza Irving Jones Workers' Compensation Judge.
CHRISTOPHER GILLEY In Proper Person.
THOMAS, SOILEAU, JACKSON, BAKER & COLE, L.L.P. By:
Patrick F. Cole Kim P. Thomas Counsel for Appellees.
LOLLEY, GARRETT, and STONE, JJ.
plaintiff, Christopher Gilley, appeals from a decision by the
workers' compensation judge ("WCJ") denying his
motion for new trial, which objected to the grant of summary
judgment in favor of the defendant, Gilley Enterprises, Inc.
("Gilley Enterprises"), and its insurer, Liberty
Mutual Insurance Company ("Liberty Mutual"). For
the following reasons, we affirm.
was employed with Gilley Enterprises, a business which
operates McDonald's restaurants and is owned by his
uncle. On July 22, 2012, Gilley was installing a camera
system in a restaurant that was being rebuilt in El Dorado,
Arkansas. He alleged that he came into contact with a live
electrical wire hanging from the ceiling. The wire was to be
used for a ceiling light. Gilley claimed the wire touched his
neck and back, sending an electrical shock through his body.
He was standing on a safe at the time, and stated that he
stepped backward off the safe. He sought medical attention,
complaining of pain in his neck, back, and ankle. He
performed his regular job duties through September or
October, 2013. Thereafter, he worked irregularly, doing
consulting work for the company. Gilley was paid by Gilley
Enterprises through April 30, 2014.
September 10, 2014, Gilley filed a disputed claim for
compensation, asserting that he was injured while working and
was entitled to temporary total disability ("TTD")
benefits or, in the alternative, to supplemental earnings
benefits ("SEBs") from May 1, 2014, to present,
along with penalties and attorney fees.
Enterprises, represented by Liberty Mutual, answered and
asserted that if Gilley was injured, he had recovered, and
any disability was the result of degenerative processes. The
company claimed that Gilley was capable of working.
December 3, 2014, Gilley's attorney
withdrew. On January 5, 2015, Gilley, representing
himself, filed an amended claim asking for medical benefits,
as well as indemnity benefits. Gilley Enterprises filed an
amended answer asserting the affirmative defense of fraud,
claiming that Gilley was not injured and that he gave false
testimony to obtain benefits.
March 6, 2015, Gilley Enterprises filed a motion for summary
judgment noting that Gilley alleged that he was injured by
contact with a live electrical wire. However, the company
provided proof that there was no electricity supplying power
to the wire at the time of the alleged accident. It submitted
the affidavit of Jerry Edwards, the electrician who
supervised the electrical work at the restaurant. He was
aware that Gilley claimed to have been injured by contact
with a live electrical wire; however, there was no
electricity connected to the building until July 31, 2012.
According to Edwards, there was a temporary power source, but
it was a closed circuit power supply that was completely
isolated from the building's electrical system. Edwards
concluded that it was impossible for Gilley to have been
injured as he claimed. The company also provided an affidavit
from Steve H. Morgan, engineering associate and distribution
lead for the southwest region at Entergy, the electrical
utility company serving the area. Morgan stated that the
electric power had been removed from the site and was
reconnected on July 31, 2012.
Enterprises also submitted proof that Gilley did not sustain
any injury. Medical records showed that Gilley saw Dr. Ronald
Woods at Glenwood Family Practice on July 24, 2012,
complaining of neck, ear, and low back pain. He said he had
been shocked by an electrical wire the day before. Dr. Woods
found no traumatic injuries. An MRI of Gilley's cervical
spine was normal. An MRI of his lumbar spine showed only
degenerative disease with no acute injury. Records from
Bienville Medical Center on August 7, 2012, found that there
was no injury, swelling, or burn marks on Gilley. In October
2014, Dr. Gordon Mead was unable to substantiate any of
hearing on the motion held on May 11, 2015, Gilley did not
appear. The WCJ determined from the record that on March 25,
2015, Gilley was notified to appear for the hearing. After
hearing arguments presented by the employer's counsel and
reviewing the evidence submitted in support of the motion,
the WCJ granted the summary judgment in open court. On May
13, 2015, the WCJ signed a judgment in favor of Gilley
Enterprises and Liberty Mutual, dismissing Gilley's
claims with prejudice.
22, 2015, Gilley delivered a two-page typewritten letter to
the WCJ asking for a new hearing. The long, rambling letter
included an apology for being "late and absent"
from the hearing on the motion for summary judgment due to
health problems. Gilley disputed the claim that there was no
electricity connected to the wiring in the building at the
time of his alleged injury. The WCJ construed the letter as a
motion for new trial and set the motion for a
Enterprises filed a motion to dismiss the motion for new
trial as untimely. A hearing was held in June 2015, and
Gilley appeared, unrepresented by counsel. He stated that he
had not been able to find a lawyer to take his case. The WCJ
dismissed the motion for new trial as untimely, noting that,
according to La. C.C.P. art. 1974, the delay for applying for
a motion for new trial is seven days, exclusive of legal
holidays, and begins to run the day after the mailing of
notice of judgment. The WCJ erroneously reasoned that
Saturdays and Sundays are not legal holidays. Gilley
appealed; this court reversed, finding that the motion for
new trial was timely, and remanded the matter for
consideration of the merits. See Gilley v. Gilley
Enters., Inc., 50, 562 (La.App. 2 Cir. 4/13/16), 195
hearing on remand was scheduled for May 16, 2016. Gilley
appeared and stated that he wanted a lawyer to represent him
and asked for time to find one. The WCJ granted his request.
25, 2016, the hearing was held on the motion for new trial.
Gilley appeared, unrepresented by counsel, and stated that he
decided it was best that he represent himself. He argued that
there was temporary power to the building, but claimed that
Ernest Edwards, the electrician who actually worked on the
job, would not give him an affidavit because he was afraid he
would get into trouble. Gilley attacked the credibility of
Jerry Edwards, the electrician who gave an affidavit in favor
of Gilley Enterprises, claiming he was "on probation for
not meeting - the right credentials at his work." He
offered no proof of this allegation. Gilley stated he had
bills from Entergy for approximately $100 for each month that
temporary power was used at the job site.
presented an affidavit from Joe Poland, someone he claimed
was familiar with the McDonald's work site. Poland said
that he saw exposed electrical wires in the restaurant. The
WCJ read a portion of the affidavit into the record which
stated, "There were extension cords, strips and wired
[sic] into lights in the ceiling of McDonalds with no type of
tape or wire-net." The WCJ observed that Poland
"doesn't say that he was a witness to the fact that
there was electricity there."
urged that he had extensive proof that he had a serious
injury. He claimed that, for two years after the alleged
injury, he was not treated properly because he did not know
that the electric shock caused his symptoms. He stated that
his dentist told him he had nerve damage from the alleged
injury. Gilley claimed he had a letter from a doctor he had
seen at Johns Hopkins Hospital ("Johns Hopkins")
who dealt with electrical shock injuries. Gilley maintained
that another doctor at Johns Hopkins did testing and
determined that he had "scar tissue from the
injury." Gilley asserted that he had seen a neurologist
who told him he had "neurological and nerve damage"
and diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder. He
stated that he had undergone a functional capacity
examination and a mental evaluation.
Enterprises argued that the medical reports, electric bills,
affidavit, and other information supplied by Gilley were all
generated well before the hearing on the motion for summary
judgment in May 2015. The company urged that everything being
put forth by Gilley in support of his motion for new trial
was known to all the parties for several years.
questioned Gilley about Poland's affidavit. Gilley stated
that he had known Poland for a long time and had no
reasonable explanation as to why he could not have offered
the affidavit at the hearing on the motion for summary
determined that Poland's affidavit did not refute the
affidavits of Edwards and Morgan submitted by Gilley
Enterprises. The WCJ found that the affidavits previously
submitted by Gilley Enterprises supported the granting of
summary judgment, and particularly noted that Morgan's
affidavit stated that electric power was not restored to the
restaurant until July 31, 2012, several days after Gilley
alleged he was injured.
determined that the evidence Gilley attempted to rely on was
discoverable prior to the hearing date for the motion for
summary judgment. The WCJ found that the prior grant of
summary judgment, in favor of Gilley Enterprises, was proper.
On August 2, 2016, the WCJ signed a judgment denying the
motion for new trial with prejudice.
appeals again and is representing himself. Due to his lack of
finances, Gilley was granted a waiver of payment of advance
costs by the WCJ. He filed a brief which listed several
assignments of error. Essentially, Gilley contends that he
was denied due process when the WCJ held a hearing on the
motion for summary judgment when he was not present or
represented by counsel; that the WCJ erred in granting
summary judgment in favor of Gilley Enterprises, denying his
claim for indemnity and medical benefits; and that the WCJ
erred in denying his claim for a new trial. Gilley did not
include any argument on those issues and simply stated that
he requested that the decision of the WCJ be reversed and a
new trial be granted to "allow constitutional rights for
his due process to plea [sic] his case."
TO GILLEY'S BRIEF
Enterprises raises several objections to Gilley's brief,
claiming it does not comply with URCA 2-12.4.  The company urges
that Gilley's brief failed to reference specific page
numbers in the brief. Further, because Gilley failed to brief
any of his listed assignments of error, the assignments have
been abandoned and should not be considered on appeal.
though it is clear that Gilley's brief does not comply
with the requirements of URCA Rule 2-12.4, when a
workers' compensation claimant is proceeding without
counsel, courts will consider the brief, attempt to divine
the substance of the arguments, and treat them as properly
raised, despite the improper form of the appellate brief.
See Cheatham v. Luberski, Inc., 43, 603 (La.App. 2
Cir. 9/17/08), 996 So.2d 373; Sheridan v. Pride &
Hope Ministry Family Support Servs., 2013-1666 (La.App.
1 Cir. 5/2/14), 147 So.3d 717; Franklin v. Slidell Police
Dep't, 2012-0539 (La.App. 1 Cir. 12/31/12), 112
So.3d 257, writ denied, 2013-0471 (La. 4/5/13), 110
So.3d 592; Richardson v. North Oaks Hosp., 2011-1258
(La.App. 1 Cir. 2/13/12), 91 So.3d 361; Hunter v. Rapides
Par. Sch. Bd., 2014-490 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/5/14), 150
So.3d 638; Carsice v. Empire Janitorial, 2008-0741
(La.App. 4 Cir. 12/17/08), 2 So.3d 553, writ denied,
2009-0097 (La. 3/13/09), 5 So.3d 123; Machado v. Baker
Concrete Const., 13-273 (La.App. 5 Cir. 10/30/13), 128
So.3d 477. Therefore, we decline to consider Gilley's
arguments to be abandoned.
essentially urges that he was denied due process when the WCJ
held a hearing on the motion for summary judgment when he was
not present or represented by counsel. These arguments
are without merit.
La. C.C.P. art. 966, dealing with motions for summary
judgment, any judgment rendered in accordance therewith must
be based on proof by the mover that he is entitled to
judgment pursuant to substantive law. However, courts have
consistently found that the mover must also show that he has
secured the judgment in accordance with the procedural law in
order to have the summary judgment upheld on appeal.
Macaluso v. Macaluso, 1999-0935 ...