Case name: Blackledge v. Sol's Pipe & Steel, Inc., No. 46,148-CA (La. Ct. App. 03/23/11).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that an inmate injured while working in a work-release program was not entitled to benefits.
What it means: In Louisiana, an inmate living in a halfway house is not entitled to workers' compensation benefits for an injury that occurred while in a work-release program.
An inmate injured his back and legs while working in a work-release program. At the time, he was living in a halfway house. He was confined to a wheelchair for several days after his injury and returned to work four weeks later. He sought workers' compensation benefits. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that he was not entitled to benefits.
A state law prevents workers' compensation benefits from being collected during incarceration. The employer argued that the law prevents a prisoner from receiving a "financial windfall" while he is housed and fed by the state. The court said that the inmate's residence at a halfway house was considered incarceration. The court explained that workers' compensation benefits are a partial replacement of wages, but an incarcerated individual is not in a position to earn wages.
The inmate argued that his wages paid for his needs. As a part of the work-release program, the inmate was responsible for the cost of his room, board, clothing, and other necessary items. Any wages left over were to be paid upon his release. The court said this did not change its view.
Contrary to the inmate's arguments, the court concluded that the state law was constitutional. The court explained that the state has an interest in minimizing the costs of the workers' compensation program.
The court declined to award damages and attorney's fees to the employer for a frivolous appeal.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
May 12, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications