Appealed from the Office of Workers' Compensation,
District 1-W Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No.
16-06634, Linda Lea Smith Workers' Compensation Judge.
EMERSON Appellant In Proper Person.
IRION, SALLEY, CARLISLE & GARDNER By: Walter S. Salley
Counsel for Appellee.
COX, STEPHENS, and McCALLUM, JJ.
Worker's Compensation case, the pro se appellant
is Diedre Emerson ("Emerson" or the
"plaintiff"), a former certified nurse assistant
("CNA") employed by Willis Knighton Health System
("Willis Knighton"). Emerson filed a Disputed Claim
for Compensation describing her injury as follows:
"Mental, Distress - Hyperventilation - Stroke like
symptoms." The alleged injury occurred on October 1,
2016. After trial on the merits, the Worker's
Compensation Judge ("WCJ") denied compensation on
the grounds that Emerson failed to carry her burden of proof.
For the reasons stated herein, we affirm.
parties stipulated that Emerson was an employee of Willis
Knighton at the time of the alleged injury. Initially, she
was a full-time employee, but later changed to part-time work
to facilitate her going to nursing school. Her work schedule
on the weekend in question was 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. on
three consecutive nights - Friday, September 30, 2016,
through Sunday, October 2, 2016. She worked on the cancer
floor at Willis Knighton, which had a maximum capacity of 40
Emerson arrived at work that Friday evening, she found that
the prior shift had left much of their work undone, which
would require her to do extra work. Specifically, she stated
it was her responsibility to record the patients' vital
signs upon arriving for work, but she could not because the
patients were all "hollering for water."
Additionally, the previous shift had left the lunch trays in
the patients' rooms, and had not given the patients ice.
She further testified that she could not get any of the
nurses to help because they were all busy as well. Emerson
also admitted that the situation was just more of the
"same old, same old" thing, and that the day shift
left their work for the night shift "numerous"
learning that she would be responsible for the work allegedly
leftover from the previous shift in addition to her immediate
duty of taking vital signs of all the patients, she became
"so upset… so upset…so mad." While
she was taking vital signs, distributing ice, and helping
patients to the bathroom, she felt "something
loose-like, pop-like" in her head. Emerson admitted that
"nothing happened physically" to cause the
"pop" in her head.
the "pop," Emerson "broke down and started
crying." She did not feel pain, but felt "out of
[her] body," light-headed, anxious, and as if she could
not think. Emerson was with the charge nurse when this
occurred, and the charge nurse summoned the house supervisor,
who talked with Emerson and then reassigned her to a
different floor for the night.
her shift ended the morning of Saturday, October 1, 2016,
Emerson went to the park and sat for a while in the hope that
she would feel better by calming down. Once Emerson
determined sitting in the park did not make her feel better,
she went to the LSU Medical Center emergency room. She
testified that, in the emergency room, she was still crying
uncontrollably and reported having weakness in her left side.
The medical records from that visit do not indicate that she
complained of weakness on her left side. They indicate
that her "chief complaint" was
"nervousness" and "hyperventilation," and
that she had difficulty sleeping as well as elevated blood
pressure. Dr. Gregory Patek diagnosed Emerson with anxiety
and "stress at work." He prescribed her Atarax and
naproxen, and excused her from work until October 3, 2016.
Knighton requires that employees who cannot work their shift
give notice thereof a certain number of hours in advance.
Emerson was allegedly tardy in calling Willis Knighton to
give notice that she would miss one of her remaining shifts
that weekend. She was, for that reason, fired on Monday,
October 3, 2016.
also testified that she returned to the LSU Medical Center
emergency room on November 29, 2016 - approximately two
months after the incident for which she seeks workers'
compensation. She was then diagnosed with a stroke and a
blockage in her right carotid artery. Emerson testified that
it is undetermined whether the blockage is from a blood clot
or from plaque buildup.
medical records from this visit contain the following
Diedre Emerson is a 50-year-old female with no significant
medical history, presented with new onset of left-sided
weakness since 11:00 AM today. She arrived at least 7 h after
the onset of her symptoms. Patient c/o LUE and LLE weakness,
inability to ambulate, report symptoms started after argument
on the phone with family followed by panic attack. Symptoms
are not improving. Patient reports similar event in October
of current year and lasted for about one week, followed by
complete resolution. Patient was told that she has HTN during
her last PCP visit last year, she is currently not ...