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Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Claim for Penalties and Attorneys’ Fees Denied

In a decision by the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit, Preis PLC attorneys, Jonathan L. Woods and Brian J. Lindsey, successfully defended a hearing decision rendered by Workers’ Compensation Judge James L. Braddock finding that the claim was not compensable and denying all entitlement to future benefits, penalties and attorneys’ fees.Specifically, Judge Braddock found that the Claimant failed to prove that she suffered a mental injury caused by mental stress, as provided by La. R.S. 23:1021(8)(b), or a mental injury caused by a physical injury, as provided by La. R.S. 23: 1021(8)(c) and dismissed Claimant’s claim against her employer as not a compensable injury under the Louisiana workers’ compensation act.

In this matter, the Claimant was an Aviation Security Officer who worked for a government contractor providing security officers on deportation flights. The Claimant claimed that she was injured on January 20, 2015 when a fight broke out among some of the deportees while they were being seated in Alexandria, Louisiana. Specifically, the Claimant alleged that one deportee jumped over the seat behind her to join the fight and struck her in the back with his knee and she would later allege included crawling over her to reach the center aisle and join the melee (injuring her neck and shoulder in the process). The Claimant completed this mission, which included stops in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, before seeking medical treatment upon landing in Louisiana.

Eventually, the Claimant was evaluated by numerous physicians and specialists, none of whom could relate Claimant’s objective physical findings to her odd complaints. After extensive medical workup, the Claimant was diagnosed with PTSD and "Conversion Disorder”, which was defined by Claimant’s treating psychologist as "a mental condition in which a person exhibits physical symptoms that do not correlate to physical conditions.”

Claimant’s choice of physicians causally related these conditions to "…the traumatic event, work accident.” But, not to her physical injury which is an essential element Claimant must prove by clear and convincing evidence under §1021(8)(c).

The Claimant also raised a number of procedural assignments of error which were all likewise rejected.

The Opinion is available here.


Congratulations to eight Preis PLC attorneys selected to the 2018 Louisiana Super Lawyerslist. This exclusive list recognizes no more than five percent of attorneys in Louisiana. Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, is a research –driven, peer influenced rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Top 50 Super Lawyers:  Edwin G. Preis, Jr. and Robert M. Kallam

Rising Stars: Jonathan L. Woods, Adelaida J. "Adi" Ferchmin, Mandy A. Simon, Thomas H. Prince, Brian J. Lindsey and Charmaine B. Borne.


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