Principal eligible for benefits but denied fees and penalties
Robinson v. Calcasieu Parish School Board, No. 11-615 (La. Ct. App. 11/03/11).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a principal was entitled to workers' compensation benefits but not penalties and attorney's fees.
What it means: In Louisiana, an injured worker's request for penalties and attorney's fees for her employer's termination of her benefits can be denied when a doctor opines that she could return to work without restrictions and she exaggerated her symptoms.
An acting principal at an elementary school was injured when she was struck on the head by a roasting pan wielded by an emotionally disturbed student. She received emergency room care on the date of the injury. She received treatment for her physical and mental injuries from numerous physicians. One doctor opined that the incident exacerbated her preexisting condition related to domestic abuse years prior to the incident. The school board terminated her benefits when a doctor opined that she could return to work without restrictions. The board continued to pay her medical expenses. The principal sought benefits, penalties, and attorney's fees. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that she was entitled to benefits but not penalties or attorney's fees.
Three of the principal's doctors opined that she could return to work with limited student contact. The board did not take the recommendations into consideration but told her to apply for teaching positions. The court said that the principal was able to return to work with restrictions, but she was not offered any employment in a capacity that met her restrictions. Therefore, she was entitled to benefits.
The principal argued that she was entitled to penalties and attorney's fees given the "arbitrary and capricious termination of her indemnity benefits" and the board's denial of her request for a cervical MRI. The court disagreed. The board based its termination of benefits on one doctor who opined that she could return to work without restrictions. The doctor also did not find evidence of a severe, disabling depressive or anxiety disorder and noted clear signs of symptom magnification or exaggeration. The court also declined to award the principal attorney's fees for the work done on appeal.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
December 19, 2011
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