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Park v. Division of Administraton

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

June 21, 2019

F.J. PARK
v.
DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATON F.J. PARK
v.
DIVISON OF ADMINISTRATION

          On Appeal from the Office of Workers' Compensation In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Docket No. 17-1501 c/w 17-03819 Honorable Pamela A. Moses-Laramore, Workers' Compensation Judge Presiding.

          Terry L. Bonnie Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant Baton Rouge, Louisiana F.J. Park

          Patrick E. Henry Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Baton Rouge, Louisiana Division of Administration

          BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.

          McCLENDON, J.

         In this workers' compensation proceeding, claimant F.J. Park appeals a judgment sustaining a peremptory exception of res judicata and dismissing his claims against his employer. We affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On February 14, 1998, F.J. Park sustained injuries to his right shoulder, neck, and lumbar spine while working as a master carpenter for the Department of Building and Grounds, an agency of the State of Louisiana, Division of Administration ("DOA"). Mr. Park received medical treatment for his injuries and temporary total disability ("TTD") benefits when his treating physician determined he could not return to work.

         Mr. Park's physician released him to "light duty" work in a sedentary capacity in August of 1999. He performed clerical work for the Department of Building and Grounds until he accepted disability retirement in February 2000. Following his acceptance of disability retirement, Mr. Park began to receive Supplemental Earnings Benefit (“SEB") payments at the TTD rate. He received SEB for a total of 529 weeks, nine weeks over the 520 weeks due under the Workers' Compensation Act ("the Act"). The final SEB payment was received on February 6, 2009.

         On April 28, 2009, Mr. Park filed a disputed claim for compensation seeking permanent total disability ("PTD") status and benefits, as well as vocational rehabilitation services. A second disputed claim for compensation was filed by Mr. Park on March 22, 2011. The two matters were consolidated by order dated May 16, 2011.

         The claim was ultimately tried on April 26, 2013. The Workers' Compensation Judge ("WCJ") rendered judgment and oral reasons for judgment from the bench. Relevant to this appeal, the WCJ found that Mr. Park had failed to prove that he was entitled to PTD status and benefits. The WCJ also found that Mr. Park was entitled to further vocational rehabilitation services and awarded reinstatement of the same. A written judgment and written reasons for judgment were executed on May 29, 2013.[1]

         On October 2, 2017, Mr. Park filed an amended disputed claim for compensation again seeking permanent total disability status and benefits and vocational rehabilitation. (R. 4) Defendant herein, the DOA, filed a peremptory exception of res judicata and a motion for partial summary judgment.[2] The exception of res judicata was heard on July 20, 2018. The WCJ granted the exception from the bench, and signed a written order on August 2, 2018. Mr. Park then appealed this judgment, asserting the following assignments of error:

(1) The WCJ erred when the court noted in its final judgment that the court did not recognize claimant's change in condition.
(2) The WCJ erred when it noted that La. R.S. 23:1310(e) states a judgment denying benefits is res judicata after the claimant ...

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