Nominal, sporadic earnings unravel truck master's claim for PTD
Case name: Aucoin v. CNA, No. 2012 CA 0144 (La. Ct. App. 09/21/12).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a truck master was not entitled to permanent total disability benefits.
What it means: In Louisiana, a worker's nominal earnings from sporadic employment will prevent him from recovering PTD benefits.
Summary: A truck master for a railroad suffered a work-related back injury. The railroad's workers' compensation carrier terminated his supplemental earnings benefits, which expired. The truck master claimed that he was entitled to permanent total disability benefits. The railroad argued that the truck master was not entitled to PTD benefits because he could not meet the statutory requirement that prohibits compensation if the worker is engaged in any kind of employment. The railroad pointed out that the truck master received $25 to $50 per month from a neighbor for watching over his property, $75 per election from the clerk of court for receiving and safeguarding voting machines, and profits from the sale of cattle that he helped to care for in his family's cattle breeding business. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that the truck master was not entitled to PTD benefits.
The court found that the truck master failed to show that he was unable to work at any type of employment. Although he received minimal earnings by means of sporadic employment with the clerk of court, he did not deny that he received earnings each time he performed services. He also did not deny that he did not receive monthly payments from his neighbor. The court rejected the truck master's argument that these services did not amount to "work," stating that the law restricts PTD benefits if a worker is involved in any type of employment or receives earnings from employment.
The court found that the record did not support a finding that the truck master derived any earnings from the cattle business. Although he occasionally helped by feeding cattle, he was not a full participant in the management or operation of the cattle business to rise to the level of employment.
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January 7, 2013
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