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Cobb v. Lafayette Parish School Board

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

May 17, 2017

CATHERINE COBB
v.
LAFAYETTE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

         APPEAL FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION - # 4 PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. 0103123 SHARON MORROW, WORKERS' COMPENSATION JUDGE

          Michael B. Miller Attorney at Law P. O. Drawer 1630 Crowley, LA COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Catherine Cobb

          L. Lane Roy Brown Sims COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Lafayette Parish School Board

          Catherine M. Landry Many Simon Preis PLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Lafayette Parish School Board

          Court composed of D. Kent Savoie, Van H. Kyzar, and David E. Chatelain [1], Judges.

          D. KENT SAVOIE, JUDGE

         In this workers' compensation matter, the employer appeals an award of penalties and attorney fees in favor of the claimant for failing to pay claimant's medical bills. For the reasons that follow, we reverse in part, and affirm in part as amended.

         Procedural and Factual Background

         On May 8, 2001, Catherine Cobb filed a disputed claim for compensation alleging she was injured in September 2000, during the course and scope of her employment with the Lafayette Parish School Board (LPSB). On July 20, 2005, the parties stipulated that Ms. Cobb was entitled to temporary total disability benefits. LPSB then terminated these benefits on August 30, 2006. However, it did not file a motion seeking to modify Ms. Cobb's benefits until May 30, 2008.

         On August 31, 2009, the Office of Workers' Compensation (OWC) rendered judgment in favor of Ms. Cobb, awarding indemnity benefits in the amount of $195.25 payable from September 12, 2000 through May 30, 2008, as well as $3, 000.00 in penalties, which was 24% of unpaid benefits from August 31, 2006 through May 30, 2008. Ms. Cobb was also awarded $10, 000.00 in attorney fees, $1, 135.53 in costs, and legal interest. No other benefits were awarded.

         Ms. Cobb appealed the August 31, 2009 judgment to the extent it failed to award her with any other benefits, and LPSB appealed the award of penalties and attorney fees. The August 31, 2009 judgment was affirmed in all respects by this court on November 3, 2010. Cobb v. Lafayette Parish School Bd., 10-430 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/3/10), 49 So.3d 597, writ denied, 10-2692 (La. 1/28/11), 56 So.3d 958.

         On July 7, 2010, Ms. Cobb filed a motion seeking additional penalties and attorney fees for LPSB's failure to pay the August 31, 2009 judgment. The workers' compensation judge granted Ms. Cobb's motion and awarded her $3, 000 in penalties and $2, 500 in attorney fees pursuant to a judgment dated March 27, 2012.

         Ms. Cobb filed another motion seeking penalties and attorney fees on October 12, 2012, alleging LPSB failed to pay the March 27, 2012 judgment. She then filed an amended motion on December 14, 2012, additionally alleging that LPSB failed to pay certain medical bills incurred by Ms. Cobb, and therefore, that she was entitled to penalties and attorney fees. Ms. Cobb did not seek payment of those bills from LPSB.

         The bills at issue include $4, 999 for services rendered by Michael Berard, Ph.D. from October 17, 2005, through February 14, 2008; $4, 730 for services rendered by Michael Berard, Ph.D. from March 2008 through August 2010; three separate bills totaling $80 each for services rendered by Dr. Pervez Mussarat on December 1, 2009, February 24, 2010, and June 15, 2010; and receipts for ...


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