FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION, DISTRICT 1-E
PARISH OF OUACHITA, NO. 13-02318 BRENZA I. JONES,
WORKERS' COMPENSATION JUDGE
H. Benoist Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant: Betty Reeder
S. Salley J. Martin Lattier Lunn, Irion, Salley, Carlisle
& Gardner Counsel for Defendants/Appellees: Hardtner
Medical Center HSLI
composed of Shannon J. Gremillion, Phyllis M. Keaty, and Kent
D. Savoie, Judges.
PHYLLIS M. KEATY, JUDGE.
workers' compensation case, the employee appeals a
judgment rendered by the workers' compensation judge
(WCJ) finding that she forfeited her right to receive
workers' compensation benefits by deliberately making
false statements in order to obtain such benefits. For the
following reasons, we affirm the WCJ's decision.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
January 12, 2013, while in the course and scope of her
employment as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) employed by
Hardtner Medical Center (Hardtner), Betty Reeder (Reeder)
injured herself when she tripped and fell on a wheelchair.
Indemnity and medical benefits were paid by the Louisiana
Hospital Association Workers' Compensation Interlocal
Risk Management Agency through its agent, HSLI, from January
15, 2013 through August 8, 2014, at a weekly rate of $308.30,
based upon an average weekly wage of $462.45. The total
temporary disability benefits paid to Reeder equate to $23,
959.36. HSLI also paid Reeder's medical bills pursuant to
the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act's
(LWCA's) reimbursement rate for dates of medical services
rendered from January 16, 2013 through August 5, 2014.
La.R.S. 23:1020.1-1415. The total medical benefits paid by
HSLI equate to $64, 780.05. HSLI subsequently terminated
Reeder's indemnity and medical benefits on August 8,
2014, alleging that she made misrepresentations concerning
benefit payments in violation of La.R.S. 23:1208.
matter proceeded to trial on December 2, 2016, wherein
Hardtner moved for a directed verdict following completion of
the presentation of the evidence by Reeder. The WCJ took
Hardtner's motion under advisement, and Reeder thereafter
put on four rebuttal witnesses. Following trial, Reeder filed
a memorandum in opposition to the oral motion for directed
verdict as being improper in a non-jury context. Hardtner
responded by filing a written motion for involuntary
dismissal. The WCJ issued its oral reasons for judgment and
written judgment on January 17, 2017, and March 13, 2017,
respectively, and found that Reeder forfeited her right to
receive workers' compensation benefits by violating
La.R.S. 23:1208. As a result, the WCJ denied Reeder's
request for workers' compensation benefits and dismissed
the matter with prejudice. From that decision, Reeder
appeal, Reeder asserts the following assignments of error:
1. The trial court committed manifest legal error by granting
an involuntary dismissal pursuant to La. Code Civ. P. art.
1672.B without evaluating all evidence presented by Claimant
to determine whether Claimant proved her case by a
preponderance of the evidence, or failed to carry her burden
2. The trial court committed manifest error of fact by
finding that Claimant met each of the requirements of
Resweber v. Haroil Constr. Co., 94-2708 (La.
9/5/95), 660 So.2d 7. There is no evidence of willfulness in
Claimant's statements by which she seeks to obtain
workers' compensation benefits. The leap made by Hardtner
and the trial court is unsupported if all of the evidence is
considered, and even if incorrect statements were made by
Claimant, they are unrelated to the work injury sustained on
January 12, 2013 and are inconsequential.
standard of review applicable in workers' compensation
cases was discussed by this court in Foster v. Rabalais
Masonry, Inc., 01-1394, p. 2 (La.App. 3 Cir. 3/6/02),
811 So.2d 1160, 1162, writ denied, 02-1164 (La.
6/14/02), 818 So.2d 784 (citations omitted), as follows:
"Factual findings in workers' compensation cases are
subject to the manifest error or clearly wrong standard of
appellate review. In applying the manifest error standard,
the appellate court must determine not whether the trier of
fact was right or wrong, but whether the factfinder's
conclusion was a reasonable one." "The
determination of coverage is a subjective one in that each
case must be decided from all of its particular facts."
Jackson v. Am. Ins. Co., 404 So.2d 218, 220
(La.1981). Thus, "great deference is accorded to the
[workers' compensation judge's] factual findings and
reasonable evaluations of credibility." Garner
v. Sheats & Frazier, 95-39, p. 7 (La.App. 3
Cir. 7/5/95), 663 So.2d 57, 61. "Where there is conflict
in the testimony, reasonable evaluations of credibility and
reasonable inferences of fact should not be disturbed upon
review, even though the appellate court may feel that its own
evaluations and inferences are as reasonable."
Vidrine v. La-Tex Rubber & Specialties, Inc.,
07-157, p. 4 (La.App. 3 Cir. 5/30/07), 958 So.2d 146, 149.
First Assignment of Error
first assignment of error, Reeder contends the WCJ committed
manifest legal error by granting an involuntary dismissal
pursuant to La.Code Civ.P. art. 1672(B) without evaluating
all of the evidence presented by her to determine whether she
proved her ...