Louisiana Resident Denied Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Claimant, a Louisiana resident, worked for Employer as a truck driver.  During the course and scope of his employment, Claimant was injured in Mississippi.  Claimant initially applied for and received medical and indemnity benefits under the workers’ compensation laws of Arkansas.  Thereafter, he sought benefits for workers’ compensation under Louisiana law.  In response, Employer filed an exception of lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  The workers’ compensation judge denied the exception, finding that the contract for hire was confected in Louisiana, thereby creating jurisdiction under Louisiana Law.  Employer appealed the decision.

Benefits under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act will be extended to an injured employee while working outside of Louisiana if his employment is principally located in Louisiana, or if he is working under a contract of hire made in Louisiana.  Here, the appellate court looked at the important first factor in the formation of the contract, which was the initiation of the request and offer of employment.  Employer was domiciled in Arkansas, and did not solicit employment from Claimant in Louisiana.  Employer did not maintain offices in Louisiana, and Employer had no intent or objective to hire Claimant to perform his duties in Louisiana.  Based on these factors, the appellate court found that Arkansas law governed the employment contract.

The appellate court next reviewed choice of law issues.  The primary considerations are the nature, type and purpose of the contract, and policies of facilitating the orderly planning of transactions, promoting multi-state commercial interaction, and protecting one party from undue imposition by the other.  The appellate court found that a contract involving a Louisiana resident’s employment raises Louisiana’s policy interests as they relate to the protection of injured workers and their compensation.  Still, the appellate court noted that the same policy of protection exists under Arkansas law, where Claimant was already provided with workers’ compensation benefits.  The court reasoned that the seeking of employment with an Arkansas employer by a Louisiana employee should be promoted and not hampered by the imposition of Louisiana law upon an Arkansas employer with few contacts in Louisiana.  Further, Louisiana policy seeks to minimize the adverse consequences of subjecting a party to the law of more than one state.  Here, Claimant seeks both states’ workers’ compensation benefits, violating this policy concern.  The appellate court therefore reversed the workers’ compensation judge’s denial of the exception of lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Williams v. Morris Transp.