Salter v. DeSoto Par. Police Jury

CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
Docket Number54,982-WCA
Decision Date17 May 2023


AMY SALTER Plaintiff


No. 54,982-WCA

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

May 17, 2023

Appealed from the Office of Workers' Compensation, District 1-W Parish of DeSoto, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2003450 Shannon Bruno Bishop Workers' Compensation Judge

THE ANZELMO LAW FIRM By: Donald J. Anzelmo Charles A. Anzelmo

Counsel for Defendant- Appellant, Jean Simpson Personnel Service


Counsel for Plaintiff




This case arises out of Worker's Compensation Court District 1W, DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. Amy Salter claimed she injured her arm, wrist, elbow, and hand on May 22, 2019, while working for Jean Simpson Personnel Services ("Jean Simpson") at the DeSoto Parish Animal Shelter. All originally named defendants have been dismissed except for Jean Simpson. The worker's compensation judge ("WCJ") found in favor of Mrs. Salter, awarding her $331.73 in weekly wages, medical treatment, penalties in the amount of $8,000, and attorney fees in the amount of $20,000. Weekly wages and medical treatment were awarded beginning May 31, 2019, without a specified end date. Jean Simpson now appeals. For the following reasons, we modify the weekly benefits and medical treatment to end on October 28, 2019, when Mrs. Salter was discharged from medical treatment by her treating physician. We reverse the judgment granting penalties and attorney fees.


On June 13, 2019, Mrs. Salter filled out a Statement of Injured Worker's Compensation Form. She alleged a work accident occurred on May 22, 2019. She stated, "A coworker and I were taking photos for the animal shelter Facebook[.] I was handling cats &shaking toys to get them to look at the camera [and] my right hand became locked in position." She stated her injury was that her "hand became locked in position, there was increasing pain in hand and wrist."

On June 8, 2020, Mrs. Salter filed a disputed claim for compensation, alleging the following: wage benefits have not been paid; medical treatment has not been authorized; the worker's compensation rate is incorrect; she is


owed reimbursement for mileage, prescription medications, and medical bills; she is owed for TTD and/or SEB and/or PPD and/or PTD;[1] and defendants should pay penalties, interest, and attorney fees.

On June 24, 2020, Jean Simpson filed an answer and exception and denied the following: Mrs. Salter suffered an injury on May 22, 2019; she was temporarily disabled for any reason related to her employment; she is permanently disabled; she suffered an injury resulting in a loss of earning capacity; and she is entitled to rehabilitation services.

All parties agreed to multiple continuations of the trial due to Covid-19 and the additional time needed for discovery. Trial on the matter was held on August 17, 2021. At the beginning of trial, Mrs. Salter and Jean Simpson stipulated to the dismissal of defendants DeSoto Parish Police Jury and Summit Claims Management.

Mrs. Salter's medical history was submitted as evidence at trial. The following is a summary of her medical history that is pertinent to the alleged injury:

• 8/3/2017: Highland Clinic- arthralgia and fibromyalgia; prescribed Gabapentin; ordered x-rays and labs patient complains of "pain in b/l hands, wrists, knees and upper back. Symptoms started a few years ago"; formerly diagnosed with RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome); "Neck, wrist, knees ankles and jaw- painful"; "Hands- Left: +TTP at wrist, Range of motion: mild pain w/ motion, Right: +TTP wrist, Range of motion: mild pain w/ motion"; Elbow- Left: Normal, Right: Normal.
• 8/3/2017: Highland Clinic (hand x-ray)- Right: "There is expected mineralization and anatomic alignment. A tiny calcified body seen on the AP view projecting between the triquetrum and lunate measures up to 2 mm in size; this could represent a loose intra-articular body, soft tissue calcification or old fracture fragment." Left: "There is expected
mineralization and anatomic alignment. No fracture, dislocation or radiopaque foreign body is identified... Unremarkable left hand."
• 8/17/2017: Highland Clinic- fibromyalgia, chronic pain of left knee, and other chronic pain; "Xray of hands ok"; "Hands- Left: +TTP at wrist, Range of motion: mild pain w/ motion, Right: +TTP wrist, Range of motion: mild pain w/ motion"; Elbow- Left: Normal, Right: Normal.
• 5/23/2019: DeSoto Regional Health System- patient complains of wrist pain for two days; "No injury. No swelling, no redness, no weakness. Pain is exacerbated with rotation of the wrists and also palpation of the distal mid and upper forearm and medial epicondyle. No injury noted. No weakness."; Treatment: Medrol tablet, Meloxicam tablet, and forearm band.
• 5/23/2019: DeSoto Regional Health System (Imaging Services Report)- right wrist pain; AP and lateral views of the right wrist were obtained; Findings: ".bones appear intact. No displaced fractures or dislocations seen. Joint spaces appear normal in width."
• 5/31/2019: Shreveport Doctor's Rehab- right hand and wrist pain of 4/10; right arm pain when touching it and certain movements; patient has been wearing immobilizer on right hand; x-ray after injury of hand, wrist, and arm were within normal limits; current medications include Adderall and Prozac daily and Xanax as needed; EXTREMITIES: pain noted in hand and wrist, swelling between thumb and wrist, and range of motion limited due to pain; prescribed Flexeril; no treatment recommendations; patient off work until further notice.
• 7/1/2019: Shreveport Doctor's Rehab- elbow, wrist, and hand pain at 7/10; patient complains of weakness in hand, elbow, and wrist; "EXTREMITIES: Examination of the right elbow, hand, and wrist reveals pain noted on manipulation to the joints. She does have swelling in the right wrist, mostly located between the thumb and wrist. Range of motion is limited in the elbow, wrist, and hand in all planes due to pain. No bruising."; prescribed Flexeril and Tramadol; x-ray from 5/23/2019 was within normal limits; ordered another x-ray; no treatment recommendations; patient currently not working.
• 8/13/2019: Orthopedic Specialists of Louisiana (Initial Evaluation)- pain in right hand and weakness; examination shows an equivocal Tinel's and negative Phalen's; negative Allen's test; mildly tender to palpation to first web space; x-rays on three views are unremarkable; impression: right carpal tunnel; she may continue working.
• 8/26/2019: Shreveport Doctor's Rehab- wrist pain is 1/10; patient states weakness in elbow, wrist, and hand; EXTREMITIES: pain noted in
elbow, hand, and wrist upon manipulation, slight swelling of wrist, and no bruising noted; patient does not need medications; no treatment recommendations; patient currently not working, no strenuous activity or heavy lifting.
• 8/27/2019: Orthopedic Specialists of Louisiana- Nerve studies were done, which came back negative; patient complains of pain in wrist; "She states when she was at work she would take pictures of pit bulls and would have to grab the leash and this would pull her arm"; examination of wrist shows tenderness to de Quervain's area, very mild; Impression: tendinitis in right upper extremity; patient given short arm Velcro forearm splint; prescribed Mobic; patient to remain off work.
• 9/16/2019: Orthopedic Specialists of Louisiana- patient states she is still having some pain; when she wears her brace, she has no pain; examination of wrist shows pain on Watson's maneuver; negative Tinel's and negative Phalen's; impression: right carpal tunnel syndrome; sent to therapy; continue to be off work.
• 9/24/2019: Shreveport Doctor's Rehab- follow-up from work accident on May 22, 2019, "in which her wrist was caught in a dog leas[h]"; patient reports EMG that was normal; 0/10 wrist pain; patient complains of some weakness in wrist; "EXTREMITIES: Examination of the right wrist reveals normal range of motion. Normal strength with grip, finger abduction, finger flexion, and thumb abduction. Negative Tinel's at the elbow and the wrist."; patient does not need medication at this visit; no treatment recommendations; patient is to remain off work.
• 10/7/2019: Orthopedic Specialists of Louisiana (Dr. Acurio)- patient states she is still having pain in hand and wrist; has not been approved for OT; examination shows negative Phalen's; pain on Tinel's maneuver but no electrical sensation; impression: right carpal tunnel syndrome; recommend therapy; patient to remain off work.
• 10/28/2019: Shreveport Doctor's Rehab- no complaints; weakness in wrist intermittently; "EXTREMITIES: Reveals full range of motion without pain, tenderness, or spasms"; "IMPRESSION: Right wrist pain- resolved"; no medication needed; if pain returns in next two to three weeks, come back for a visit; patient is discharged. (emphasis added).
• 11/19/2019: Shreveport Doctor's Rehab- patient was discharged 10/28/2019 with 0/10 pain; patient states she was putting sheets on a bed and pain came back, her arm swelled; wrist and hand pain 4/10; EXTREMITIES: wrist and hand reveal some swelling and range of motion limited due to pain; prescribed Flexeril; recommend x-rays
and PT, but denied by worker's comp; patient to remain off work. (emphasis added).
• 12/19/2019: Shreveport Doctor's Rehab- wrist pain 3/10; hand pain 2/10; EXTREMITIES: pain noted on palpation of wrist and base of thumb; prescribed diclofenac gel; recommend x-rays and PT, but denied by worker's comp; patient to remain off work.
• 1/20/2020: Shreveport Doctor's Rehab- wrist pain 2/10; hand pain 9/10;

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