APPEAL FROM THE WORKERS COMPENSATION ADMINISTRATION, DISTRICT
6, NUMBER 1801292 STATE OF LOUISIANA HONORABLE ROBERT W.
VARNADO, JR., OWC
O. Price Denham Springs, Louisiana Counsel for Plaintiff
-Appellant Angela Wilson
Richard J. Voelker Stephen W. Brooks, Jr. Covington,
Louisiana Counsel for Defendant -Appellee LURA Casualty
Insurance Company, and its insured, St. Helena School Board
BEFORE: WELCH, CHUTZ, AND LANIER, JJ.
Angela Wilson, appeals the judgment of the Office of
Workers' Compensation (OWC), sustaining a dilatory
exception raising the objection of prematurity and
dismissing, without prejudice, her claims for indemnity and
medical benefits, as well as penalties, attorney fees, and
judicial interest, against St. Helena School Board (SHSB) and
its insurer LUBA Insurance Company (LUBA). We affirm.
February 23, 2018, Wilson filed a disputed claim for
compensation (Form 1008 disputed claim), naming SHSB and LUBA
as defendants. She indicated that her occupation was
"[t]eacher," SHSB was her employer, and the part of
her body injured was "low back." Identifying the
date of injury as April 28, 2017, Wilson described the
accident and injury as follows: "On a field trip to
Celebration Station and the roller coaster came loose."
Wilson noted that she reported the accident on April 28, 2017
to "Donna Jackson," whose position with SHSB was
"modified principal." Wilson averred as bona fide
disputes: no wages had been paid; no medical treatment had
been authorized; and her entitlement to penalties, attorney
fees, and judicial interest. Her Form 1008 disputed claim
contained no other allegations. She left blank the portions
of the form that allowed her to indicate her average weekly
wage, the compensation rate, and a list of "the names,
addresses, [and] telephone numbers of any witnesses."
The section entitled "MEDICAL BENEFITS," which
permitted a claimant to "[s]tate the names, addresses
and telephone numbers of hospitals, clinics and doctors who
have provided medical attention" was likewise left
and LUBA responded to Wilson's Form 1008 disputed claim
on April 4, 2018, by filing a dilatory exception raising the
objection of prematurity along with their answer to
Wilson's claims. In their allegations supporting the
prematurity exception, SHSB and LUBA recognized that Wilson
had filed a Form 1008 formal claim for injuries arising out
of an alleged incident while she was employed with SHSB.
Noting that Wilson had not completed or signed a written
incident report, SHSB and LUBA averred that she had not
requested approval for medical evaluation or treatment. They
also pleaded that since the alleged incident, they were
unaware of Wilson having submitted or requested the
initiation of weekly indemnity benefits supported by a
medical slip of disability. As such, defendants asserted that
her suit was premature. SHSB and LUBA also answered the suit,
reiterating the same core allegations set out in the
exception and adding multiple defenses including that she is
not entitled to wage benefits for any period that she worked
and was paid her full salary.
hearing, OWC sustained the exception of prematurity and
dismissed Wilson's disputed claim for workers'
compensation benefits without prejudice. This appeal
dilatory exception of prematurity is provided in La. C.C.P.
art. 926. The exception of prematurity questions whether the
cause of action has matured to the point where it is ripe for
judicial determination. An action will be deemed premature
when it is brought before the right to enforce it has
accrued. La. C.C.P. art. 423. The exception raising the
objection of prematurity is generally utilized in cases where
the law has provided a procedure for a claimant to seek
administrative relief before resorting to judicial action.
The exceptor bears the burden of proving prematurity. S.
Framers of Louisiana, LLC v. Doctors Hosp. of Slidell,
2015-1878(La.App. 1st Cir. 8/31/16), 202 So.3d 1135, 1137.
appeal, pointing to La. R.S. 23:1314, Wilson maintains that
OWC erred in sustaining the prematurity exception without
first determining whether any benefits were owed. She
buttresses her assertion with the language of La. R.S.
23:1314 to suggest that a claimant need only allege that