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In the News

TWPD Supporting Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation in Mississippi

Jill Miller joined a panelist of three other female industry leaders, including Commissioner Beth Harkins of the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission in a discussion to explore the challenges and emerging trends of executive presence in the workers’ compensation world at the annual MWCEA conference. The discussion was moderated by Jennifer Ryon, Board Vice President for the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation. Jill provided lessons learned and explained how her executive presence has transformed throughout her career. Jill will be joining the Ambassador program for Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation to assist in starting a chapter in Mississippi.

 

Supreme Court Decision in Hicks v. Harger re good cause for AME

The Louisiana Supreme Court handed down its highly anticipated opinion on the standard for ordering an Additional Medical Examination under LA C.C.P. art. 1464 and issued a ruling that benefits personal injury defendants across the state. TWPD was tasked with taking a writ and presenting oral argument on Hicks v. USAA General Indemnity Co. for a decision on what constitutes “good cause” for an AME. This issue has been plaguing the defense bar for a number of years by allowing personal injury plaintiffs to present unopposed physician testimony at trial while barring defendants from retaining their own experts to physically examine the plaintiff. Ruling in favor of TWPD, the Supreme Court held that a moving party satisfies the "good cause" standard merely by showing a reasonable nexus between the requested examination and the condition in controversy. The Court further reversed the trial court’s decision—which previously resulted in a $1.5 million verdict at trial—and remanded the matter for a new trial in accordance with its findings.

Firm Secures Defense Verdict in 19th JDC Jury Trial

TWPD Attorneys, Mike Thompson and Claire Sauls, secured a defense verdict in a bad faith UIM claim. The plaintiff alleged lumbar injuries and sought in excess of $375,000 in damages. Additionally, the plaintiff claimed that TWPD’s client violated the provisions of La. R.S. 22:1892 and 22:1973, seeking penalties and attorneys’ fees for the violation. During trial, the defense presented testimony and evidence that the plaintiff’s alleged injury was caused by other events and that plaintiff was otherwise not credible.  The jury returned a verdict finding that the plaintiff failed to prove that he sustained the alleged injuries in the accident. By extension, the jury found that our client did not violate the provisions of La. R.S. 22:1892 and 22:1973. The jury thus returned a verdict of $0.00. 

TWPD WELCOMES ITS NEWEST EQUITY PARTNER!

TWPD is honored to announce that Jared Davidson has become an equity partner in our firm.  Jared’s excellence in the legal profession was evident early in his career after he graduated Summa Cum Laude from Tulane Law School in 2009.  Since joining TWPD in 2013, his outstanding legal acumen and professionalism have been recognized by his peers and the clients he represents in the areas of transportation, premises liability, first party claims and construction law. Jared’s dedication earned him further recognition in 2017 when he was elevated to Super Lawyer® status in Louisiana, an honor that is not bestowed lightly. Please join TWPD in congratulating Jared on this latest and many achievements in his career. 

Jury Verdict Substantially Less than Pre-Trial Settlement Offer

TWPD’s Baton Rouge lawyers successfully defended a personal injury action in the 19th JDC leading the jury to award substantially less damages than the defendant demanded in pre-trial settlement negotiations. During the course of trial, TWPD’s defense team twice sought and obtained favorable evidentiary rulings from the court of appeal that impacted the outcome.  Despite the plaintiff alleging severe injuries and need for surgery, the defense presented the jury with evidence, including testimony from plaintiff’s ex-wife, that plaintiff was performing high levels of physical activity following the accident that were completely inconsistent with his claims of injury. The plaintiff sought $7.5 million from the jury. The jury awarded $450,000.  

Exclusion of Lifetime Botox Leads to Substantially Reduced Settlement

TWPD’s Baton Rouge lawyers secured exclusion of costly life care plan leading to settlement substantially below the demanded damages. In this personal injury suit in St. Martin Parish, the plaintiff demanded more than $3 million in damages related to a traumatic brain injury. The plaintiff’s neurologist opined she required Botox injections to treat TBI related headaches for her 43 year remaining life expectancy. The firm moved to exclude the testimony on the grounds the neurologist’s clinical experience and the studies he relied on did not support 43 continuous years of treatment. The judge agreed, and the case settled for a fraction of the $3 million demand.

TWPD Secures Dismissal in Trip and Fall Suit

TWPD’s Baton Rouge attorneys secured dismissal of a trip and fall suit against a national home improvement store. The plaintiff allegedly tripped and fell over a piece of lumber that extended from another customer’s cart. The incident was captured on the store’s video surveillance cameras. The video of the incident showed the plaintiff walking directly into the piece of lumber extending from the cart. The other customer was waiting in line to check out and the plaintiff was walking with her phone in her hand just before she fell. Plaintiff alleged that she did not see the piece of lumber. We argued that our client owed no duty to protect an inattentive plaintiff from tripping over a piece of lumber that extended from another customer’s cart. Our client also had no notice or control over the allegedly dangerous condition. The Western District of Louisiana agreed and granted summary judgment dismissing the suit.  

TWPD Secures Dismissal of General and Punitive Damage Claims

TWPD’s Mississippi attorneys successfully defended its client against claims of negligence, breach of the implied warranties of habitability under Mississippi’s Residential Landlord Tenant Act and punitive damages. The Plaintiff, whose status as a tenant was disputed, sought general and punitive damages for personal injuries following a fire in a mobile home owned by TWPD’s client. The Plaintiff’s medical expenses exceeded six figures and she claimed a host of injuries. Summary judgment turned on Plaintiff’s inability to establish causation for the fire, which was essential to her claims. Though Plaintiff alleged a variety of possible contributing causes, she presented no expert to establish the cause or origin of the fire. TWPD presented an affidavit from the local fire chief who, after investigating, was unable to determine the cause of the fire. TWPD’s summary judgment motion was granted as to both causes of action pursued by Plaintiff.   

TWPD Successfully Obtains Dismissal of a Penalties Claim

A plaintiff, who was not at fault, in a multi-vehicle accident filed suit against two defendant drivers and their insurers. Among the claims asserted against the insurers was a claim for penalties for failing to pay the plaintiff’s property damage claim. TWPD filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking dismissal of the penalties claim on the grounds that no payment was due and no offer was required, because the issue of liability was in dispute. The district court denied the MSJ. We filed a writ application with the First Circuit Court of Appeal. The First Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and dismissed the penalties claim, recognizing that an insurer owes no obligation to pay or offer to pay a property damage claim to a party who is not insured on its policy if liability is in dispute. The First Circuit further stated that the insurer had the right to litigate the claim without being subjected to penalties.

2021 Louisiana Legislative Session: Bills Potentially Affecting Your Practices

  • §22:1267.1 - Addresses the application of named storm/hurricane deductibles to multiple storms in the same calendar year.
  • §22:337(A)(17) - Requires workers’ compensation insurers to maintain an office in Louisiana to process claims or retain an adjuster with a Louisiana license.
  • §22:1674.1 - Requires and prohibits conduct by insurance claims adjusters and includes provisions pertaining to the financial interests of adjusters, general obligations of fairness, settlement negotiations, and other related matters.
  • §22:887(J) - Requires notices of reinstatement of coverage following the cancellation of policies.
  • §22:1272 - Limits the types of policies which may include defense expenses within limits (i.e. wasting or eroding policies). The following types of policies may not include provisions that reduce limits by payment of defense expenses: all personal lines, medical malpractice,  commercial vehicle, and commercial general liability. Certain classes of policies, including non-medical professional liability and others typically issued with eroding defense costs, are expressly exempt from this requirement. All others are subject to a case-by case waiver that may be granted by the commissioner.
  • §45:201.5 - Requires transportation network companies to advise drivers of the types of coverage and limits for each coverage provided and any liability coverages rejected by the company.
  • La. C.C.P. Art. 1001 - Extends the time for answering a lawsuit from 15 to 21 days. If discovery is propounded with the Petition, the delay for Answering the suit is 30 days.
  • §22:1982 - Requires additional disclosures addressing the calculation of depreciation, including a written explanation as how the depreciation was calculated. Prohibits insurers from requiring that repairs be made by a preferred vendor. Requires payment of general contractor O&P when a general contractor’s services are reasonably foreseeable. Requires a mandatory appraisal provision. Requires disclosure of a field adjuster’s report within fifteen days of a request. Increases minimum penalties for failure to make timely payments following a presidentially or gubernatorially declared disaster.

Firm Proves Plaintiff Not Injured in Questionable Accident

Lawyers from TWPD’s Baton Rouge office secured a defense verdict in a bench trial in south Louisiana involving a premise liability matter. The plaintiff allegedly injured her hand and arm when she was struck by several falling coolers placed at the top of a freezer. At trial, TWPD challenged both the applicability of the Merchant Liability Statute and the validity of plaintiff’s alleged injuries. First, the court found the Merchant Liability Statute did not apply because the plaintiff did not actually fall to the ground. Instead, general negligence would be analyzed. Second, the judge concluded that TWPD had successfully shown the plaintiff to be a fraud. Cross-examination of the plaintiff revealed clear inconsistencies between her version of events and the store’s surveillance system regarding the severe pain plaintiff claimed she experienced immediately after the incident. The plaintiff’s reports of pain and limitations were also inconsistent throughout trial. The judge concluded there was a clear showing that this plaintiff was malingering and faking.  He added: “Plaintiff tried to bootstrap the incident into a payday” and awarded no damages.

Congrats to Doran Drummond for LSU Law Coaching Award

Congratulations to Doran Drummond for receiving LSU Law Center’s 2021 Advocacy Program Coach of the Year Award! Doran was the co-coach of the LSU Law National Pretrial Competition team, which competed in October 2020. Named in honor of the late Professor Susan C. Kalinka, the award recognizes a coach of one of LSU Law’s moot court, trial advocacy, or dispute resolution external competition teams who embodies the inspiration and dedication of Professor Kalinka. Despite many hardships last year involving COVID and hurricanes, the team advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2020 Pretrial Competition: a competition which brings together many of the best trial ad teams from around the country. Doran has been coaching and mentoring students in the trial advocacy and moot court program at LSU since graduating from LSU Law in 2014. 

Firm Secures Defense Verdict in Favor of Employer in SEB Dispute

The firm’s Baton Rouge attorneys secured a workers’ compensation verdict in favor of an employer regarding a dispute over entitlement to supplemental earnings benefits(SEB). The employee was a laborer who suffered shoulder and wrist injuries in a work accident. Following surgery and conservative treatment, a functional capacity evaluation released him to medium duty work. The employee advised his doctor his job was medium duty, and the doctor initially released him to “full duty” based on the employee’s own description of his position. Following an objection from his lawyer, the release was modified to reflect “medium duty,” but claimant did not return to the job. A dispute arose as to whether SEB was owed because: 1) the employee and employer disputed the exact physical requirements of the job of injury; and 2) the employee and employer disputed whether the employer was required to specifically offer the position. The issue was whether a release to the job of injury means the accident no longer prevents an employee from earning 90% of his/her pre-injury income?

 

The employee alleged his job of injury required strenuous lifting: despite a 60 year old 90 pound female employee being physically capable of working the position. On behalf of the employer, we argued that because the employee was released to his job of injury and chose not to return to it, he did not carry his burden of proving he was unable to earn 90% of his average weekly wage, and thus the burden never shifted to the Employer. The evidence showed that the job of injury was available and there is nothing in the law indicating an employer must formally re-offer the position.  The SEB statute does not permit a claimant to choose not work and still collect SEB.  The OWC judge entered judgment in favor of our client and the suit was dismissed with prejudice.

Louisiana Newsletters

Workers' Compensation

May 2022

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April 2022

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Janurary 2022

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December 2021

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November 2021

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October 2021

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2021 Louisiana Work Comp Legislation

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General Liability

September 2021

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Changes from the 2021 Louisiana Legislative Session

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November 2020

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October 2020

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July 2020

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June 2020

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Mississippi Newsletters

General Liability

April 2022

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January 2022

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October 2021

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September 2021

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August 2021

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June 2021

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Louisiana Workers' Compensation Resources

Mileage Rates

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Form 1010A

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When used properly, the Form 1010A can ensure doctors are providing all necessary information and complying with the MTG.

Judicial Interest Calculator

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If you have any questions about how to calculate judicial interest, please give us a call.

Second Injury Fund Questionnaire

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Using SIF Questionnaires can be a pivotal part of the employment and workers’ compensation process. Call us with any questions.

Second Injury Fund

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Second Injury Fund, when pursued properly, can help offset costs of expensive claims involving workers with pre-existing conditions and also serve as the basis of a 1208.1 fraud claim.

OWC Districts Directory

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New 2020 Pain Management Guidelines

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These guidelines contained some marked changes in the area of pain management.

Mississippi Workers' Compensation Resources

AWW Rates for Mississippi

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Benefit Rates

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Lump Sum Computation

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Seminars

Our lawyers frequently present seminars before risk and management teams for insurance companies and other corporations across the country on a variety of legal topics. These seminars are regularly approved for CE/CLE credits by several states. Here is a list of our most recent seminars:

Trends in LA - Brain Injury and Punitive Damage Claims

State Approved Adjusters:

AZ, GA, TX, NH, CT, FL

Recent Updates in Handling Transportation Claims

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, OH

XL Catlin General Liability and Auto Lunch and Learn

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, NC

Fighting the Trends in Personal Injury Litigation

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, NC, DE, FL

Recent Developments in Claims Handling

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX

Every T Crossed and Every I Dotted

State Approved Adjusters:

MS

The Definitive Accident

State Approved Adjusters:

LA

Defending General Liability and Workers' Compensation Claims

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, NC

Auto Claims: Know the Law and Avoid the Traps

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, MS

General Liability and Auto Lunch and Learn

State Approved Adjusters:

LA

Use of OWC Form 1002 and The Safe Harbor

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, MS

Traumatic Brain Injury

State Approved Adjusters:

AZ, GA, NH, NJ, LA, TX, CT, PA

How to Handle Auto Third-Party and UM/UIM Claims in Louisiana

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, NC

How to Successfully Mediate a Case

State Approved Adjusters:

NC

Updates in Louisiana Law

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, CT, NC

Recent Developments in Louisiana General Liability Law

State Approved Adjusters:

NC

Workers' Compensation in Louisiana

State Approved Adjusters:

LA

Recent Developments in Louisiana General Liability Law and in Medicare Reporting Guidelines

State Approved Adjusters:

NC

Updates in Trucking Law and Investigating an Accident 101

State Approved Adjusters:

LA