FROM THE OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION - # 3 PARISH OF
CALCASIEU, NO. 17-03561 DIANNE MARIE MAYO, WORKERS
Patrick A. Johnson Allen & Gooch COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS: Argonaut Insurance Company Top Deck,
B. Gibson Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE:
composed of D. Kent Savoie, Candyce G. Perret, and Jonathan
W. Perry, Judges.
KENT SAVOIE JUDGE
Top Deck, Inc. and Argonaut Insurance Company appeal the
judgment of the trial court, finding in favor of Plaintiff
Byrle Raney. For the following reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Raney filed a Disputed Claim for Compensation on June 12,
2017. He claimed that, on or about February 8, 2017, while he
was working at the Packing Corporation of America facility in
DeRidder, Louisiana, he was injured as a result of a major
explosion on the job site. Raney alleged that he was pushed
form a seated position into iron scaffolding, injuring his
right shoulder. Following a subsequent explosion, he fell
backwards into the grating and onto the floor, sustaining
further injuries. Raney requested unpaid wages, reimbursement
for medical treatment, and claimed Top Deck, Inc.'s
actions were arbitrary and capricious. Defendants filed an
Answer wherein it was admitted that Raney was their employee
on the date of the accident, however, it was denied that
Raney was in the course and scope of his employment.
trial on the merits, the trial court found that Raney
satisfied his burden of proof that a workplace accident
occurred and found that his injuries were causally related to
said accident. The trial court awarded $618.36 per week to
Raney, including back-pay of $45, 140.28 from February 8,
2017, through trial. The trial court further found that
Defendants failed to reasonably controvert Raney's claim
and ordered them to pay $2, 000 for failure to pay indemnity
benefits, $2, 000 for failure to pay medical benefits, and
assessed Defendants with $12, 000 in attorney's fees for
the arbitrary and capricious denial of Raney's
workers' compensation benefits. Defendants now appeal.
1. The Trial Court committed manifest error in denying
[D]efendants' defense of fraud under LSA-R.S. 23:1208
based upon RANEY'S intentional misrepresentation of his
medical history and substance abuse in an effort to obtain
disability determinations and medical benefits to which he
was not entitled.
2. The Trial Court committed manifest error in ruling that
[RANEY] has satisfied his burden of proof as to the
occurrence of the accident.
3. The Trial Court committed legal and manifest error in
ruling RANEY'S medical complaints were causally related
to his alleged accident over the concerns of the various
4. The Trial Court committed manifest error in awarding RANEY
indemnity benefits, when the evidence does not support that
he suffered an accident or any injury.
5. The Trial Court committed manifest error in assessing
penalties and attorneys' fees against the [D]efendants.
Standard of Review
court in Numa C. Hero & Son v. Leleux, 15-305,
p. 3 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/28/15), 178 So.3d 595, 598,
Factual findings of the [Workers' Compensation Judge] are
subject to manifest error review. Buxton v. Iowa
Police Dep't, 09-520 (La.10/20/09), 23 So.3d
275. Whether the burden of proof has been satisfied and
whether testimony is credible are questions of fact to be
determined by the WCJ. Id. Under the manifest error
rule, the reviewing court does not decide whether the
factfinder was right or wrong, but only whether its findings
are reasonable. Id.
Assignment of Error Number One
first argue that the trial court committed manifest error by
denying their defense of fraud under La.R.S. 23:1208, which
states, in pertinent part:
A. It shall be unlawful for any person, for the purpose of
obtaining or defeating any benefit or payment under the
provisions of this Chapter, either for himself or for any
other person, to ...