FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION - DISTRICT 3
PARISH OF CALCASIEU, NO. 15-06413 CHARLOTTE BUSHNELL,
WORKERS' COMPENSATION JUDGE.
C. Auzenne Auzenne Law Firm, L.L.C., COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: ProTemp Staffing Solutions, Inc.
Charles W. Farr, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Boise
Dwayne Dorsey IN PROPER PERSON.
composed of Marc T. Amy, Van H. Kyzar, and Candyce G. Perret,
T. AMY JUDGE.
workers' compensation claimant sought benefits from
injuries he allegedly sustained in a work-related accident.
After the parties entered into a settlement, the claimant
sought to reopen his claim by filing an amended claim. The
workers' compensation judge concluded that the claimant
failed to prove that the settlement should be set aside or
modified. Subsequently, the claimant filed a motion to amend
judgment and motion for new trial, and the workers'
compensation judge denied both motions. The claimant now
appeals. For the following reasons, we affirm.
and Procedural Background
October 9, 2015, the claimant, Carey Dorsey, filed a
"Disputed Claim for Compensation" in which he
alleged that he injured his neck and back on September 21,
2011, while employed by ProTemp Staffing Solutions, Inc.
("ProTemp"). In particular, Mr. Dorsey asserted
that the injury occurred when he was attempting to open a
panel on a "chipper, " which was subsequently
engaged and jerked his body. Mr. Dorsey contended that his
wage benefits terminated or were reduced on September 7,
2015, and that Protemp should be assessed penalties, attorney
fees, court costs, and legal interest, as well as a penalty
for the failure to have workers' compensation insurance.
answered and, in pertinent part, denied that Mr. Dorsey
sustained an injury and denied that he was either temporarily
or permanently disabled. In its answer, ProTemp stated that,
at the time of Mr. Dorsey's alleged injury, it was
insured by the Louisiana Safety Association of Timbermen.
Additionally, ProTemp provided that compensation had been
paid to Mr. Dorsey from September 21, 2011, the date of the
alleged accident, until September 7, 2015. The record
indicates that around September 7, 2015, the Louisiana Safety
Association of Timbermen filed for bankruptcy.
Mr. Dorsey filed a "Motion and Order to File Amended and
Supplemental Disputed Claim for Compensation." Mr.
Dorsey alleged that, at the time of the injury, he had been
"hired by ProTemp and loaned to defendant, Boise Cascade
Company ("Boise Cascade") to perform work as a
temporary employee." He further contended that,
"[a]s the borrowing employer and/or the statutory
employer, Boise Cascade is liable for workers'
compensation indemnity benefits to Carey Dorsey." The
workers' compensation judge granted Mr. Dorsey's
motion. Mr. Dorsey and Boise Cascade ultimately entered into
a consent judgment, which stipulated that Boise Cascade was
the "special employer" or "borrowing
employer" on the date of the alleged accident.
hearing on Mr. Dorsey's claims was scheduled for November
16, 2016. However, prior to the start of the hearing, counsel
notified the workers' compensation judge that the parties
had reached an agreement to settle, and a compromise
settlement was read into the record before the workers'
compensation judge. Mr. Dorsey was represented by counsel,
Gregory P. Marceaux, at this hearing. The workers'
compensation judge asked Mr. Dorsey whether he had heard the
terms and conditions of the settlement and whether he agreed
with them, and Mr. Dorsey responded affirmatively to both
questions. Thereafter, Mr. Dorsey, ProTemp, and Boise Cascade
filed a "Joint Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice, "
which was granted by the workers' compensation judge. The
parties then submitted signed compromise settlement documents
and a "Joint Petition for Compromise Settlement of
Workers' Compensation Claim" to the workers'
compensation judge. On January 17, 2017, the workers'
compensation judge signed the parties' "Request for
Compromise or Lump Sum Settlement, " as well as an
"Order of Approval of Compromise Settlement" and an
"Order of Dismissal." The "Order of Approval
of Compromise Settlement" provided, in pertinent part:
EMPLOYER, PROTEMP STAFFING SOLUTIONS, INC.,
and DEFENDANT, BOISE CASCADE COMPANY, shall
be fully, finally and forever released and relieved from any
and all further liability from any claims for compensation,
damages as they relate to this workers' compensation
claim, attorney's fees, travel expenses, penalties,
medical expenses, and weekly workers' compensation
indemnity or monthly supplemental earnings benefits or any
other such claims arising heretofore which may hereafter
arise out of the Louisiana Worker's Compensation laws in
any manner connected with or growing out of any accident or
injury occurring prior to the date of this Order, except for
the obligation to comply with the terms of this Settlement
March 2, 2017, appearing in proper person, Mr. Dorsey filed
an "Amended Disputed Claim for Compensation, "
which again named ProTemp and Boise Cascade and alleged that
Mr. Dorsey had injured his neck and back on September 21,
2011. In the claim, Mr. Dorsey alleged that "Wage
benefits terminated or reduced on 09/07/2015" and
"Medical benefits terminated 09-07-2015." He also
contended: "I have not received any temporary total
disability benefits, cash or medical treatment and services
since 09-07-2015. Comproise [sic] lump sum. And not seen by
physican [sic] Dr. Hodges since 8-2015[.] Status TTD still
unable to work. In treatment." ProTemp and Boise Cascade
both filed exceptions of res judicata, motions to enforce the
settlement, and motions for sanctions. On April 12, 2017, the
workers' compensation judge held a hearing to address Mr.
Dorsey's request. At the hearing, Mr. Dorsey argued that
the settlement should be set aside on the basis of fraud or
misrepresentation. After taking the matter under advisement,
the workers' compensation judge issued a ruling,
concluding that Mr. Dorsey had failed to prove that the
settlement should be set aside or modified; denying Mr.
Dorsey's motion to set aside or vacate the settlement;
and held that the exceptions filed by ProTemp and Boise
Cascade were rendered moot.
on April 26, 2017, Mr. Dorsey filed a "Motion to Amend
Judgment and for New Trail [sic]." In response, ProTemp
and Boise Cascade filed exceptions of res judicata, motions
for sanctions, and memoranda in opposition to Mr.
Dorsey's motions. After a hearing on June 12, 2017, the
workers' compensation judge denied Mr. Dorsey's
motions, as well as ProTemp's and Boise Cascade's
exceptions of res judicata and motions for sanctions.
Dorsey thereafter appealed, and ProTemp and Boise Cascade
moved to dismiss the appeal. A panel of this court issued a
limited remand of the appeal in order for the workers'
compensation judge to conduct a contradictory hearing and
enter a ruling as to whether Mr. Dorsey timely fax-filed his
motion for new trial. Dorsey v. ProTemp Staffing
Solutions, Inc., 17-793 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/15/17), 233
So.3d 122. After the workers' compensation judge
conducted the hearing and entered judgment finding that Mr.
Dorsey timely filed the motion with an appropriate filing fee
within the time required by La.R.S. 13:850, the panel denied
the motions to dismiss the appeal. Dorsey v. ProTemp
Staffing Solutions, Inc., 17-793 (La.App. 3 Cir.
1/31/18), 237 So.3d 1195.
we now consider the merits of the appeal, in which Mr.
Dorsey, appearing in proper person, asserts that the
workers' compensation judge: 1) failed to adequately
inquire into his understanding of the settlement agreement,
thereby resulting in fraud and ill practices; 2-3) erred in
failing to consider his claim on the merits and that
benefits, penalties, and attorney fees should have been
awarded; 4) erred in permitting the entry of the settlement
agreement into the record at what should have been a hearing
on the merits; 5-6) erred in approving the settlement
agreement without adequate assurance that Mr. Dorsey was
aware that it was a compromise of his claim; and 7) erred in
not awarding a penalty due to the employers' alleged late
payment of the sums due.
as to understanding of settlement
Dorsey contends that the workers' compensation judge
failed to adequately inquire into his understanding of the
settlement agreement. He further asserts that the
workers' compensation judge erred in approving the
settlement agreement without adequate assurance that Mr.
Dorsey was aware that the settlement was a compromise of his
claim. Mr. Dorsey alleges that the workers' compensation
judge's actions constitute fraud and "Ill
Practice" and allowed the "Defendants To Committ
[sic] Unlawful Practice."
procedural requirements for approval of workers'
compensation settlement agreements are found in La.R.S.
23:1272, which provides, in pertinent part:
A.A lump sum or compromise settlement entered into by the
parties under R.S. 23:1271 shall be presented to the
workers' compensation judge for approval through a
petition signed by all parties and verified by the employee
or his dependent, or by recitation of the terms of the
settlement and acknowledgment by the parties in open court
which is capable of being transcribed from the record of the
B. When the employee or his dependent is represented by
counsel, and if attached to the petition presented to the
workers' compensation judge are affidavits of the
employee or his dependent and of his counsel certifying each
one of the following items: (1) the attorney has explained
the rights of the employee or dependent and the consequences
of the settlement to him; and, (2) that such employee or
dependent understands his rights and the consequences of
entering into the settlement, then the workers'
compensation judge shall approve the ...