FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION - # 2 PARISH OF
RAPIDES, NO. 15-06536 JAMES L. BRADDOCK, WORKERS'
A. Losavio Losavio Law Office, LLC COUNSEL FOR
PLAINTIFF-PPELLANT: Lori Hataway
Jonathan L. Woods Brian J. Lindsey Preis PLC COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Akal Security, Inc. New Hampshire
composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, D. Kent Savoie, and Van H.
ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE.
workers' compensation claimant, her employer, and its
insurer appeal a judgment that dismissed her claims for
indemnity benefits, medical treatment including prescription
medications and mileage reimbursement, as well as penalties
and attorney fees, and dismissed the employer's claim for
reimbursement of benefits it paid to the claimant because she
failed to report income that she received while being paid
benefits. For the following reasons, we affirm.
October 2015, Lori Hataway filed a disputed claim for
workers' compensation benefits against her employer AKAL
Security, Inc. and its insurer, New Hampshire Insurance
Company (hereinafter AKAL), seeking proper payment of
indemnity and medical benefits, additional medical treatment,
penalties, and attorney fees. Ms. Hataway claimed that she
had been injured on January 20, 2015, while working for AKAL
as an aviation security officer, when a fight broke out among
some of the deported immigrants being transported on the
airplane to which she was assigned.
after the fight, AKAL began paying Ms. Hataway indemnity and
medical benefits. In time, Ms. Hataway's claims for
medical treatment became complicated because no physiological
basis could be found for her physical complaints and
symptoms. Furthermore, her complaints developed a
psychological component. Additionally, some confusion arose
with regard to whom Ms. Hataway and how Ms. Hataway was to
submit her claims for reimbursement of medical expenses. Ms.
Hataway claimed that AKAL failed to pay timely for and/or
approve all the medical treatment recommended by her
physicians, and she sought to recover penalties and attorney
fees from AKAL.
matter proceeded to a trial on the merits on June 28, 2016.
Ms. Hataway and her husband Dewey Pittman testified at trial.
Medical evidence was presented by deposition and/or medical
records. Documentation prepared by AKAL personnel provided
additional information regarding the incident at issue.
Hataway testified to the events that led to her being injured
and her claim for benefits, explaining that a fight broke out
among some of the 101 deportees being transported that day.
She stated that eleven of the deportees were being
non-compliant with the guards' instructions and that,
after the deportees and AKAL personnel were seated, "a
riot broke out" behind her. She described straddling the
arm rest of her seat in an attempt to tend to deportees
around her. At that time, a Haitian seated behind her freed
one of his hands from his handcuffs, jumped over the seat
behind her, landing "square in" her back, then
"crawled" over her shoulder and head, trying to get
to a friend who needed help. After two other guards
restrained the Haitian, the airplane's engines were
stopped, order was restored among the deportees, and the
flight resumed. Ms. Hataway remained aboard and completed the
round-trip flight. Her version of the events was corroborated
by a statement made by Edwin Pippin, another AKAL guard on
the flight with Ms. Hataway.
Pittman testified that he met Ms. Hataway when she returned
to the airport in Alexandria, stating that she looked scared
and as though she was hurting and had been crying. He brought
her to St. Frances Cabrini Hospital's emergency room,
where she was diagnosed with a bruise on her back.
Thereafter, Ms. Hataway sought treatment from nine medical
professionals to whom she related various complaints
including neck, shoulder, and back pain; her right arm and
leg being drawn up and spastic; nightmares; and anxiety.
Initially, Ms. Hataway's physicians made tentative
diagnoses of lumbar radiculopathy, cervical radiculopathy,
possible rotator cuff tear or adhesive capsulitis or frozen
right shoulder based on her complaints and their physical
examinations of her. Nevertheless, diagnostic testing failed
to reveal a physiological explanation for her complaints.
After complaining of nightmares and anxiety, Ms. Hataway was
referred to a psychologist, who diagnosed her as having
conversion disorder, posttraumatic disorder, and pain
syndrome related to physical condition.
its cross-examination of Ms. Hataway and Mr. Pittman, AKAL
presented evidence to prove that Ms. Hataway earned income
while being paid compensation benefits without reporting it
to AKAL as provided in La.R.S. 23:1208. AKAL argued that the
evidence it produced established Ms. Hataway forfeited the
workers' compensation benefits it had paid her and sought
a judgment ordering her to reimburse it for all benefits it
had paid her.
taking the matter under advisement, the workers'
compensation judge (WCJ) issued extensive reasons for ruling
in which it thoroughly reviewed the parties' claims in
light of the evidence. The WCJ determined that Ms. Hataway
failed to prove she suffered a mental injury caused by mental
stress, as provided by La.R.S. 23:1021(8)(b), or a mental
injury caused by a physical injury, as provided by La.R.S.
23:1021(8)(c), and dismissed all of her claims against AKAL.
The WCJ also determined that AKAL failed to prove its La.R.S.
23:1208 forfeiture claim and dismissed it. These findings
were reduced to judgment and signed by the WCJ. Both parties
Hataway assigns the following errors with the trial and the
1. [Trial] court erroneously found plaintiff failed to prove
a compensable work injury.
2. [Trial] court erroneously found no physical-mental injury
was proven by the injured worker.
3. Trial court erred in allowing expansion of the pleadings
and/or ruling to include whether a compensable work accident
had occurred since that was not an issue presented at trial.
4. Trial court erred in allowing expansion of the pleadings
by allowing defendants to ask questions of the injured worker
at trial regarding possible income from Facebook postings and
the filing of exhibits in connection therewith and the
subsequent allowing defendants to file supplemental and
amended pleadings alleging fraud defense over the timely
objection of plaintiff's counsel.
5. Trial court erred in allowing Dr. Strother's
deposition to be admitted into evidence over the timely
objection of plaintiff's counsel.
6. Trial court erred in not awarding benefits, penalties[, ]
and attorney fees for statutory violations.
assigns one error: "The [WCJ] erred in denying the La.
R.S. 23:1208 defense of the Employer."