Articles Posted in Communications Law

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Claimant Jerry Benoit worked for Turner Industries for twenty-seven years. For ten of those years he worked as a general laborer for a Lake Charles Citgo refinery, where Turner was contracted to perform general maintenance. Claimant's duties included cleaning chemical discharges and oily waste which collected in the drainage ditches, sewers, and processing units at the refinery. In the course of this work, he was exposed to any number of potentially dangerous or carcinogenic chemicals, including high levels of benzene. In July 2006, Claimant fell ill. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), known to be linked to high levels of benzene exposure. Despite the medical evidence linking Claimant's cancer to the chemicals he was exposed to at work, his claim for medical benefits was denied. The eventual medical bills totaled over $625,000. Medicaid paid for $203,124.68. The remaining $422,043.59 was "written off" by the medical care providers. Turner paid nothing. Claimant's family filed suit in 2007. The Office of Workers' Compensation (OWC) awarded Claimant total medical expenses and attorney fees. Turner appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed the OWC judgment in its entirety. Upon review of the correctness of the OWC award of medical expenses, the Supreme Court concluded the OWC erred in awarding the "written off" medical expenses: "Claimant would receive an improper windfall if he was allowed to recover for medical expenses which have been reduced by health care providers as a result of their contractual arrangements with Medicaid." The Court reversed the appellate court's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Benoit v. Turner Industries Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court accepted a certified question from the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of appeals in "MCI Communications Services, Inc. v. Hagan" (641 F.3d 112 (5th Cir. 2011)): "[i]s the proposed jury instruction in this case, which state[d] that '(a) Defendant may be held liable for an inadvertent trespass resulting from an intentional act,' a correct statement of Louisiana law when the trespass at issue is the severing of an underground cable located on property owned by one of the alleged trespass[e]rs, and the property is not subject to a servitude by the owners of the underground cable but only to the contractual right to keep it, as an existing cable, underneath the property?" MCI alleged that co-Defendant James Joubert negligently excavated with a backhoe in violation of the Louisiana Damage Prevention Act. MCI alleged Defendant Wayne Hagan was vicariously liable because Joubert was acting as his agent at the time. The underground cable at issue was buried under land owned by Hagan. After a trial in the federal district court, a jury found for Hagan and Joubert. MCI appealed to the Fifth Circuit. Upon review of the issue presented by the Fifth Circuit, the Supreme Court answered the certified question in the negative: the proposed jury instruction in this case was not a correct statement of Louisiana law. View "MCI Communications Services, Inc. v. Hagan" on Justia Law