APPEAL FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION, DISTRICT
7, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 17-1425 HONORABLE SHANNON BRUNO
BISHOP, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, REGINALD BILLIOT Lloyd N.
Frischhertz, Jr. Anthony J. Impastato
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, PALA GROUP, LLC David T.
composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Stephen J.
Windhorst, and Hans J. Liljeberg
STEPHEN J. WINDHORST JUDGE
Reginald Billiot, appeals the trial court's September 10,
2018 judgment in favor of appellee/employer, Pala Group, LLC
("Pala"), finding that claimant failed to meet his
burden of showing that he sustained a work-related accident
or injury and dismissing claimant's case with prejudice.
For the following reasons, we affirm.
was employed by Pala as a welder. In early November 2016,
claimant alleged that he injured his back while pulling
pontoon and deck legs by hand on Tank 308. Claimant filed a
Disputed Claim for Compensation on February 17, 2017. After a
trial on the merits, the workers' compensation court
rendered judgment in favor of the employer, Pala, dismissing
claimant's claims with prejudice. In written reasons, the
workers' compensation court found the following:
* * *
All of the witnesses testified that the job at Pala was hard
work. However, unfortunately, no one could corroborate
Claimant's attestation that he had a work accident.
Claimant's accident was not witnessed; no one
corroborated his account of an accident or complaints of pain
as a result of a work accident. All of the witnesses
testified about Pala's policy with regard to reporting
work accidents. The witnesses testified about the safety
meetings and the PTSA forms which were signed at the end of the
day to indicate the worker had no work injury. None of the
witnesses could corroborate a work accident, despite Claimant
testifying that he informed some of them of his injury.
Additionally, Pala presented evidence to question
Claimant's credibility and/or veracity by presenting
evidence that Claimant spent 11 months in prison for credit
* * *
The Court reviewed the record in this matter, including the
testimony, depositions and medical records and upon doing
such, the Court finds that Claimant is unable to sustain his
burden in proving an accident as defined by La. R.S.
23:1021(1). Although there was a question regarding the
existence of the PTSA for November 11, 2016, Claimant did not
testify that he followed protocol regarding signing in and
out on the PTSA. He did not dispute signing in and out on
each day. He asserted that he reported his accident to Ward,
but neither Ward nor any other supervisor or worker had any
knowledge of the alleged accident. Claimant's testimony
lacks credibility and the evidence presented casts doubt
regarding whether he sustained injuries as a result of a work
accident. As such, Claimant has failed to sustain his burden
to prove that a work related accident occurred November 2016
and that he sustained injuries as a result of said work
workers' compensation case, the employee bears the burden
of proving an accident occurred, that it occurred in the
course and scope of her employment, the accident caused her
injury, and the injury caused her disability. Guevara v.
Brand Energy & Infrastructure Servs., 13-331
(La.App. 5 Cir. 10/30/13), 129 So.3d 625, 631, writ
denied, 13-2782 (La. 02/14/14), 132 So.3d 964; Gray
v. H.B. Zachary Const. Co., 01-276 (La.App. 5 Cir.
09/25/01), 798 So.2d 271, 274, writ denied, 01-2847
(La. 01/04/02), 805 So.2d 207.
workers' compensation court's determinations as to
whether the claimant's testimony is credible and whether
the claimant has discharged his burden of proof are factual
determinations that should not be disturbed on appellate
review unless clearly wrong or manifestly erroneous.
Guevara, 129 So.3d at 335; Dean v. Southmark
Constr., 03-1051 (La. 07/06/04), 879 So.2d 112, 117. The
findings of the workers' compensation court will not be
set aside by a reviewing court unless they are found to be
clearly wrong in light of the record viewed in its entirety.
Dean, 879 So.2d at 117. Where there is a 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. Id.
The court of appeal may not reverse the findings of the lower
court even when convinced that had it been sitting as the
trier of fact, it would have weighed the evidence
differently. Id. The determinations by the
workers' compensation court as to whether the
claimant's testimony is credible and whether the claimant
has discharged his burden are factual determinations that
will not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of manifest
error or unless clearly wrong. Forbes v. Metro
Developmental Center, 09-901 (La.App. 5 Cir. 03/09/10),
35 So.3d 377, 382; Bruno v. Harbert International,
Inc., 593 So.2d 357, 361 (La. 1992).