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Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corp. v. Louisiana Workers' Compensation Second Injury Board

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

January 10, 2020

LOUISIANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION CORPORATION
v.
LOUISIANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION SECOND INJURY BOARD

          ON APPEAL FROM THE 19th JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LOUISIANA DOCKET NUMBER 651, 033, DIVISION “D” HONORABLE JANICE CLARK, JUDGE

          Jeff Landry Attorney General Karl L. Scott Shane Veade Claudia I. Rush Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorneys for Defendant/ Appellant Louisiana Workers' Compensation Second Injury Board.

          Paul -Michael Fryday Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorney for Plaintiff/ Appellee Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation.

          BEFORE: MCDONALD, THERIOT, and CHUTZ, JJ.

          Mcdonald, J.

         In this appeal, the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Second Injury Board (Board) challenges a judgment ordering it to grant the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation (LWCC) authority to settle an injured employee's workers' compensation claim in a certain monetary amount. We affirm.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In 1999, Andre F. Baudoin suffered a work-related injury while employed by Canterbury Associates. LWCC, Canterbury's workers' compensation insurer, began paying benefits to Mr. Baudoin. In 2000, LWCC filed a claim with the Board for reimbursement of benefits it had paid and would pay to Mr. Baudoin. In 2001, the Board approved LWCC's claim and specifically notified LWCC that, in the event of a future settlement of Mr. Baudoin's claim, the Board reserved the right to reimburse LWCC "on a lump sum, quarterly[, ] or semi-annual basis ..., "[1]

         In July 2016, LWCC requested that the Board approve a proposed lump sum settlement to Mr. Baudoin in the amount of $256, 663.90. After reviewing LWCC's request, the Board refused to approve the settlement, stating the file material LWCC submitted did not support its request. The Board informed LWCC that it would pay the claim as an "ongoing claim." LWCC then filed a petition in the 19th Judicial District Court appealing the Board's denial of its lump sum settlement. The Board answered the appeal, the matter was set for trial, and the parties filed briefs with the district court.

         A bench trial was held on June 13, 2017, at which time the district court took the matter under advisement. On February 19, 2019, the district court issued the following "ruling":

The Court has previously reviewed the documentary evidence introduced in this matter together with the argument of counsel and the law there unto. After careful review, the court is of the opinion that plaintiff provided by defendant, LWCC, in support of its settlement authority request was sufficient and preponderates in its favor, [sic] The defendant's denial without any specific explanation or reason was unreasonable. Accordingly, the court hereby grants judgment as prayed for by petitioner in the amount of $256, 663.90. Judgment to be signed accordingly upon presentation after filing with the clerk and circulation among counsel. Notify counsel.
On April 9, 2019, the district court signed a judgment stating:
IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the [Board] shall grant settlement authority to [LWCC] in the amount of [$256, 663.90] concerning the Second Injury Fund accepted workers' compensation claim of Andre F. Baudoin resulting from his work-related accident which occurred on ... July 9, 1999 ... .

         The Board appeals the judgment, claiming the district court erred in finding that: (1) LWCC had settlement authority, and (2) LWCC could demand that the Board ...


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