NEW ORLEANS — After finding that the workers' compensation
and its medical director misinterpreted language of state
administrative code, the Louisiana Supreme Court has reversed a
lower-court ruling that denied a claimant's request for a trial of a
The issue decided by the high court, according to the opinion
released on March 15, was whether the Office of Workers' Compensation
erred by affirming the system's medical director who denied claimant
Byron Gulley's physician's request.
Judges with the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Parish of
Rapides, had affirmed the findings of the OWC.
The high court’s opinion noted that the state Legislature in
2009 enacted a statute establishing a medical-treatment schedule that
was ultimately used by the OWC. The statute allows an aggrieved party
to file an appeal with the medical director, and the decision of the
medical director can be “overturned when it is shown, by clear and
convincing evidence” that the decision “was not in accordance
with the provisions” of the statute.
Gulley had sued Hope Youth Ranch and others after he had been hit
by a golf cart in June 2009 while working at the Winnfield, Louisiana
ranch. He claimed injuries to his head, shoulder, wrist, back, knee,
hip, foot and ankle, court documents said.
His pain-management specialist had recommended a trial of the
spinal-cord stimulator because medications, conservative therapy and
injections did not deal with pain in his lower back, left hip and
"To deny this claimant the non-narcotic alternative he seeks
not only departs from the appropriate interpretation of the Medical
Treatment Guidelines addressed by the majority, but would also leave
this claimant, who has exhausted all other options, with the
unavoidable use of dangerous and addictive opioids for pain relief,"
Justice Scott Crichton wrote
in the court's opinion. "Surely this is not what the Louisiana
Workers’ Compensation Act seeks to accomplish."
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