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Lasalle v. City of Lake Charles

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

May 25, 2017

JOHN LASALLE
v.
CITY OF LAKE CHARLES, ET AL.

         APPEAL FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION - # 3 PARISH OF CALCASIEU, NO. 14-05524 ANTHONY PAUL PALERMO, WORKERS' COMPENSATION JUDGE.

          Christopher E. John Assistant City Attorney P.O COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: City of Lake Charles.

          Jason R. Bell, Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: John LaSalle.

          Court composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, Phyllis M. Keaty, and D. Kent Savoie, Judges.

          D. KENT SAVOIE JUDGE.

         An employer appeals the workers' compensation court's judgment finding that its employee's injuries to his right knee were causally related to a work-accident. For the following reasons, we reverse and render judgment in favor of the employer.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On August 20, 2007, John LaSalle fell off of a trash truck in the course and scope of his employment with the City of Lake Charles ("the City"). He injured his left knee and underwent a left knee replacement. The City paid medical benefits relating to his left knee injuries, as well as indemnity benefits.

         On May 20, 2014, Mr. LaSalle sought treatment from Dr. Brett Cascio, complaining of pain in his right knee. Dr. Cascio provided Mr. LaSalle with a steroid injection and ordered an MRI. The City declined to cover the cost of the MRI.

         Mr. LaSalle then saw Dr. David Drez on June 26, 2014, for a second medical opinion regarding his right knee. Dr. Drez's report concluded that no diagnostic studies or further treatment were necessary, other than over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. The City again declined to cover expenses related to treatment to Mr. LaSalle's right knee.

         On August 20, 2014, Mr. LaSalle filed a disputed claim for compensation seeking medical benefits related to alleged injuries to his right knee, as well as penalties and attorney fees for the City's alleged arbitrary and capricious handling of the claim.

         Mr. LaSalle saw Dr. Cascio again on September 18, 2014. Dr. Cascio's report noted a "small effusion" in the right knee and that Mr. LaSalle was provided with another steroid injection. Dr. Cascio ordered an MRI, and the City again declined to the cover the cost.

         The City filed an Answer on October 7, 2014, admitting that a work-related accident occurred on August 20, 2007, and that Mr. LaSalle sustained injuries to his left knee arising from that accident. It otherwise denied allegations concerning Mr. LaSalle's right knee.

         On April 10, 2015, the workers' compensation court signed an order appointing Dr. Thomas Ford to perform an independent medical examination ("IME") in connection with the disputed medical issues. On May 28, 2015, Dr. Ford ...


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