from the Office of Workers' Compensation, District 1-W
Parish of Webster, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 14-05152,
Patrick F. Robinson and Linda Lea Smith Workers'
LAW OFFICES OF ALEX S. LYONS By: Alex S. Lyons Counsel for
THOMAS, SOILEAU, JACKSON, By: J. Chris Jackson Patrick F.
Cole Haley G. Baynham Counsel for Appellees BAKER & COLE,
MOORE, PITMAN, and GARRETT, JJ.
Hawkins appeals a judgment that sustained his employer's
exception of res judicata and dismissed his workers'
compensation claim. For the reasons expressed, we affirm.
who lives in Minden, Louisiana, was employed by Span Systems
Inc., a contractor at DFW International Airport, in Dallas.
On September 16, 2013, a coworker "ran into" the
lift in which Hawkins was working. At some point, Hawkins
filed a claim against Span's insurer, Liberty Mutual, in
the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers'
then filed the instant disputed claim in the Louisiana Office
of Workers' Compensation ("OWC") on August 4,
2014, against Span and Liberty Mutual (collectively,
"Span"). Alleging injuries to his neck and back, he
demanded wage benefits, medical treatment, penalties and
admitted that Hawkins sustained a work-related injury but
argued that he was receiving wages in lieu of benefits and
compensation benefits under Texas law, resulting in statutory
credit that would offset any Louisiana benefits.
the parties proceeded to a hearing in the DWC. On March 26,
2015, the hearing officer rendered a 5½-page Decision
and Order ("the DWC ruling") finding that the
work-related injury did not extend to and include a disc
protrusion at C5-6, cervical radiculitis, lumbar
sprain/strain, and multiple disc bulges (L1-2, L3-4, L5-S1);
that Hawkins reached maximum medical improvement on February
24, 2014; and that his impairment raising was 5%. The hearing
officer ordered Liberty Mutual to pay medical costs and any
accrued wage benefits in accord with Texas law, but did not
address any complaint of cervical sprain/strain.
the OWC, Span filed the instant exception of res judicata on
May 15, 2015. Citing the DWC ruling, it argued that the
matter had been fully adjudicated with a finding that most of
Hawkins's symptoms were not the result of the accident.
In support, it cited Early v. R & J Technical
Servs., 2012-686 (La.App. 3 Cir. 2/13/13), 129 So.3d 46,
for the principle that an out-of-state workers'
compensation ruling was entitled to full faith and credit in
the OWC. It conceded that Hawkins's claim for cervical
sprain/strain was unresolved and could proceed.
opposed the exception, arguing that his hearing in the DWC
did not meet due process standards, and that res judicata
does not apply until the plaintiff has an "adequate
opportunity to litigate, " Turner v. Maryland Cas.
Co., 518 So.2d 1011 (La. 1988). He conceded that
Early was superficially on point, but argued that
the OWC has continuing jurisdiction over all claims, La. R.S.
23:1310.8, and that the compensation law should be liberally
construed to promote recovery. Mostly, he cited the
formulation that res judicata requires an examination of
"the entire record in the first suit, "
Brielle's Florist & Gifts Inc. v. Trans Tech
Inc., 2011-260 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/5/11), 74 So.3d 833;
Pickett v. J.B. Tuck Land Clearing, 2012-1409
(La.App. 3 Cir. 5/1/13), 157 So.3d 34. He argued that Span
must introduce the entire record of the DWC case, not just
the DWC ruling.
hearing in February 2016, Span offered the DWC ruling, not
the entire record. After argument, WCJ Patrick Robinson
sustained the exception with ...