Last week, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal issued its decision in Fred v. Drill Cuttings Disposal Company, LLC. The case involved a terminated employee’s claim for past due salary and expenses and his employer’s claim that it was entitled to an offset against any money owed to the Plaintiff as a result of his willful negligence and conduct that potentially exposed the employer to a fine prior to his termination.
Before reaching the Third Circuit, the summary proceeding came before the trial court on a rule for past due salary, expenses, penalties and attorney’s fees. Plaintiff argued that he was owed salary and expenses totaling more than $5,000 and statutory penalties due to his employer’s failure to make payment. The employer answered and opposed the rule. It admitted that Plaintiff was owed past due salary and expenses but alleged that Plaintiff’s willful negligence had damaged the employer and opened it up to an environmental fine. The employer argued that the damages it sustained far exceeded the amount owed to the Plaintiff.
At a hearing on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the employer attempted to call live witnesses at the hearing to prove its claim that it was entitled to an offset. However, because the hearing was on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the trial court refused to allow live witness testimony. The trial court ruled in favor of the Plaintiff and the employer appealed.
On appeal, the employer argued, among other things, that it was deprived of its ability to prove that it was entitled to an offset. However, because the matter came before the court as a motion for judgment on the pleadings, only the pleadings and any exhibits could be considered. The Third Circuit held that it was not error for the trial court to refuse to hear any live witness testimony. After considering the other arguments presented on appeal, the Third Circuit ultimately affirmed the trial court’s decision awarding Plaintiff past due salary, expenses, penalties and attorney’s fees.
Fred v. Drill Cuttings Disposal Company, LLC
Trevor M. Cutaiar