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Leger v. B.O.P. Controls, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 2, 2017

DAVID LEGER
v.
B.O.P. CONTROLS, INC. & LWCC

         APPEAL FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION DISTRICT 4, NO. 16-05691 HONORABLE SHARON MORROW, WORKERS' COMPENSATION JUDGE

          William J. Casanova Miller & Associates COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: David Leger

          M. Jeremy Berthon COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: B.O.P. Controls, Inc. and LWCC

          Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Sylvia R. Cooks and Shannon J. Gremillion, Judges.

          SYLVIA R. COOKS JUDGE

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The pertinent facts surrounding this appeal are not in dispute. On June 9, 2014, while in the course and scope of his employment with B.O.P. Controls, Inc., David Leger severely injured his left thumb. The parties submitted to a mediation wherein they agreed to a full and final settlement of $60, 000.00 on Mr. Leger's claims.

         On July 21, 2016, a fully executed "Joint Petition for Approval of Compromise Settlement" was submitted to the Office of Workers' Compensation (OWC) for an order of approval as required by La.R.S. 23:1272(B). There was no dispute that the settlement conformed to the procedural requirements set forth in La.R.S. 23:1272(B). The following day, on July 22, 2106, Mr. Leger tragically and unexpectedly passed away due to circumstances unrelated to his work accident. As of the date of Mr. Leger's death, the workers' compensation judge (WCJ) had not yet signed the order approving of the settlement. Counsel for Mr. Leger immediately notified the employer and the OWC of Mr. Leger's death. On July 26, 2016, the employer withdrew from the settlement agreement.

         Due to the employer's withdrawal from the settlement, suit was filed on behalf of Mr. Leger's son and heir, Eddy Leger (hereafter Plaintiff), seeking approval and enforcement of the July 21, 2016 submitted settlement. On

         November 10, 2016, after a hearing on the matter, the WCJ approved the parties' settlement. The WCJ, in oral reasons for judgment, explained that it was her belief that the plain wording of La.R.S. 23:1272(B) mandated that she approve the settlement. A final judgment was signed reflecting that ruling on November 29, 2016. This appeal followed, wherein the employer and its workers' compensation insurer, LWCC (hereafter Defendants), assert the following assignments of error:

1. The WCJ committed legal error in approving the workers' compensation settlement of David Leger after he died.
2. The WCJ committed manifest error in finding a lump sum payment was in the best interest of the parties and that the employer consented to the settlement.

         ANALYSIS

         At issue in this case is whether the WCJ committed legal error in approving the parties' settlement following the unexpected death of Mr. Leger. When a settlement in a workers' compensation claim involves a represented party, as is the ...


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