Appealed from The Office of Workers' Compensation
District 6, Parish of St. Tammany State of Louisiana Case No.
14-07364 The Honorable Gwendolyn F. Thompson, Judge Presiding
A. Deas Metairie, Louisiana Counsel for Defendants/
Appellants Dover Construction USA, LLC and Hadir Naoum
Murry Shannon C. Lindsey Ingrid C. Diaz Amber E. Murry
Slidell, Louisiana Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Norberto
BEFORE: McCLENDON, WELCH, AND THERIOT, JJ.
defendants-appellants, Dover Construction USA, LLC (Dover)
and Hadir Naoum,  appeal a default judgment rendered against
them by the Office of Workers' Compensation (OWC),
District 6, in favor of the plaintiff-appellee, Norberto
Zavala. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of
the OWC in part, vacate in part, and remand for further
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
November 5, 2014, Norberto Zavala filed with the OWC a
disputed claim for compensation, in which he alleged that on
February 14, 2014 he suffered an injury to his lower back,
hips, and buttocks while in the scope of his employment with
Dover. He alleged that he was on stilts while sanding the
roof of a private residence located at 4276 Folse Drive in
Metairie, Louisiana, when he lost his balance and fell,
resulting in the aforementioned injuries. He reported this
accident to the owner of Dover, who Mr. Zavala knew as
"Thomas Naoum." Mr. Zavala claimed Dover refused to
approve his disability status or to approve medical
treatment, therefore, he alleged he was owed penalties and
attorney fees. In naming Dover as a defendant in his disputed
claim, Mr. Zavala also included "ATTN: Hadir Naoum,
" with the address of 4726 Folse Dr., Metairie,
Louisiana ("the Metairie address").
Zavala's first attempt to serve Dover by certified mail
was returned as unclaimed on February 3, 2015. On January 21,
2015, Mr. Zavala filed a motion to appoint a process server
to serve Dover through "Hadir Naoum" at 5741
Crowder Blvd. B14, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The OWC granted
the motion. The special process server issued an affidavit
stating that on March 8, 2015, Dover was served through
personal service on "Hadir Naoum" at the Metairie
April 27, 2015, Mr. Zavala filed a motion for preliminary
default, claiming that Dover had not filed an answer to the
disputed claim. The OWC granted the motion. On November 9,
2015, Mr. Zavala filed a motion to amend the disputed claim
to include "Nadir Haoum, " located at the Metairie
address, as an additional defendant. The OWC granted the
motion. Dover was served with the amended petition by
certified mail with attention to "Hadir Naoum" at
the Metairie address. Although a signature appears on the
receipt, there is no printed name. "Nadir Haoum"
was served with the amended petition by certified mail, also
at the Metairie address. The receipt includes a signature but
no printed name. Both receipts were received by the OWC on
November 30, 2015.
of the default was heard on May 19, 2016 and July 13, 2016.
Mr. Zavala was present, but neither a representative of Dover
nor Mr. Naoum were present. Mr. Zavala testified before the
OWC regarding his accident and injury. He presented several
exhibits for evidence, including certified medical records of
his treatment, his disputed claim, the motion to appoint a
process server, the amendment to his disputed claim,
confirmation of service on "Nadir Haoum, " the
motion for preliminary default, bills for medical service,
and itemized attorney fees. The OWC concluded that Mr. Zavala
made a prima facie case against Mr. Naoum, made findings as
to benefits, penalties, and attorney's fees, and rendered
judgment against Mr. Naoum for the total of the benefits,
penalties, attorney fees, and court costs.
notice of signing of final judgment was sent by the OWC to
Dover, attention to "Hadir Naoum, " and to
"Nadir Haoum, " both at the Metairie address. The
certificate on the notice indicates it was mailed by
certified mail on August 19, 2016. Both Dover and Mr. Naoum
made their first appearance in the instant case on August 25,
2016 with a motion and order to enroll as counsel of record.
On August 30, 2016, Dover and Mr. Naoum filed a motion to
nullify the judgment, and in the alternative, motion for new
trial. Among his numerous allegations in the motion, Mr.
Naoum claimed that he was never an employer of Mr. Zavala or
of the coworkers Mr. Zavala called as witnesses in the
confirmation hearing and that Mr. Naoum never personally saw
the amended complaint that included him as a defendant until
he received the notice of judgment. The OWC denied the motion
ex parte on August 31, 2016. Dover and Mr. Naoum now
appeal the default judgment and the denial of the motion to
nullify and new trial.
Naoum has cited ten assignments of error, most of which
involve the merits of the case. Appellate courts generally
will not consider issues raised for the first time on appeal.
Mosing v. Domas, 2002-0012 (La. 10/15/02), 830 So.2d
967, 975. The only issues before us are whether Mr. Zavala
made a prima facie case in his prayer for a default judgment,
whether Mr. Naoum's motion for new trial ...