FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION, DISTRICT 2
PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO. 16-05483 JAMES L. BRADDOCK,
WORKERS' COMPENSATION JUDGE
Luneau Robert L. Beck, III Luneau & Beck, LLC Counsel for
Plaintiff/Appellee: Debra White
J. Waltner Corey Meaux Allen & Gooch Counsel for
Defendant/Appellant: Washington Inventory Service Inc.
(erroneously listed as WIS International)
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Phyllis M.
Keaty, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.
PHYLLIS M. KEATY JUDGE.
employer, Washington Inventory Service Inc. (WIS),
appeals an October 26, 2016 judgment rendered by the
workers' compensation judge (WCJ) in favor of its former
employee, Debra White, awarding her indemnity benefits, plus
a penalty and attorney fees after a confirmation of default
hearing. White answers the appeal seeking an award of
additional attorney fees for having to defend this appeal.
For the following reasons, we reverse and remand.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
28, 2016, White tripped and fell over security rail tracks
that were left on the floor of an Office Depot she was
entering to perform inventorying services as part of her
employment with WIS. By check dated August 8, 2016, White
began receiving Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTDs)
retroactive to July 27, 2016, which benefits WIS continues to
pay her to the present time. White filed a Form 1008 Disputed
Claim for Compensation (1008) against WIS on August 31, 2016,
alleging that she sustained injuries to her knees, upper and
lower back, neck, and left shoulder in the May 28, 2016
accident and seeking an award of indemnity benefits from that
date, plus penalties and attorney fees. She wrote
"unknown" in the sections of the 1008 asking for
her "Average Weekly Wage" and "Workers'
Compensation Rate." WIS failed to answer the complaint,
and the WCJ entered a preliminary default against it on
September 27, 2016. After an October 24, 2016 evidentiary
hearing, the WCJ rendered judgment declaring that White
suffered disabling injuries in an on-the-job accident on May
28, 2016, awarding her TTDs in the amount of $164.30 per week
beginning the day after the accident, subject to a credit for
all indemnity benefits paid by WIS since July 27, 2016. White
was also awarded a $2, 000.00 penalty for WIS's failure
to pay indemnity benefits and $6, 000.00 in attorney fees.
filed a motion for new trial, which White opposed. Following
a hearing, the WCJ denied WIS's motion for new trial, and
this appeal followed. In a single assignment of error, WIC
asserts that the WCJ erred in finding that White "proved
her prima facie case and in granting the default judgment
awarding indemnity benefits between the date of the accident
and July 27, 2016[, ] and in awarding penalties and
attorney's fees." As mentioned previously, White
answered the appeal to request an award of additional
attorney fees for the work necessitated to defend the
judgment rendered in her favor.
second circuit discussed the law applicable to appellate
review of a confirmation of a default judgment in a
workers' compensation case in Nickerson v.
Finance America of Louisiana, 47, 876, pp. 2-3
(La.App. 2 Cir. 2/27/13), 110 So.3d 1216, 1218, wherein it
A judgment by default on behalf of any party at interest must
be confirmed by proof of the demand sufficient to establish a
prima facie case. La. C. C. P. art. 1702; Nickens v.
Patriot Home Systems, 97-0291 (La.App.1st Cir.06/29/98),
713 So.2d 1179. A prima facie case is established when the
claimant proves the essential allegations of her petition,
with competent evidence, to the same extent as if the
allegations had been specifically denied. Nickens,
legislature set out the requirements for rendition of a
default judgment in a workers' compensation matter in
La.R.S. 23:1316.1,  which provides:
A. A judgment by default on behalf of any party at interest
must be confirmed by proof of the demand sufficient to
establish a prima facie case. If no answer is filed timely,
this confirmation may be made after two days, exclusive ...