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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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’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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When used properly, the Form 1010A can ensure doctors are providing all necessary information and complying with the MTG.
If you have any questions about how to calculate judicial interest, please give us a call.
Using SIF Questionnaires can be a pivotal part of the employment and workers’ compensation process. Call us with any questions.
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.
These guidelines contained some marked changes in the area of pain management.
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:
AZ, GA, TX, NH, CT, FL
LA, TX, OH
LA, TX, NC
LA, TX, NC, DE, FL
LA, TX, NC
LA, TX, MS
LA, TX, MS
AZ, GA, NH, NJ, LA, TX, CT, PA
LA, TX, NC
LA, TX, CT, NC