No Penalty for Inaccurate Mileage Reimbursement

Claimant sustained an injury while working for Employer, the Town of Gueydan, in 2012. In 2014, Claimant filed a disputed claim for compensation based on the alleged failure of Employer to pay mileage associated with his injury. Employer previously paid the mileage pursuant to a Mileage Expense Report that Claimant had submitted and signed. The form documented “one-way” mileage to Claimant’s prior medical appointments. Claimant contended that instead of paying the mileage as specified on the form, Employer should have doubled the mileage to equal a round-trip total. Upon receipt of the disputed claim for compensation, Employer paid Claimant for the additional claimed mileage. However, Claimant pursued a claim for penalties and attorney fees based on the allegation that the round-trip mileage should have been paid previously.

Prior to the hearing, the parties entered into Stipulations for other disputed issues that were raised. The workers’ compensation judge had the Stipulations read into the record and ultimately denied Claimant’s claim for penalties and attorney fees. Claimant appealed the judgment to the Third Circuit Court of Appeal.

On appeal, Claimant contended that the Judge failed to award penalties and fees, failed to include the stipulations in the judgment, and erred in determining that the language of the judgment was sufficiently precise, certain, and definite to constitute a final judgment.

In its decision, the Court referenced La. Civ. Code art. 2083 in finding that the prior judgment was not properly appealable.  Rather than remanding or amending the judgment, however, the Court converted the matter to an application for supervisory writ to be considered under the Court’s supervisory authority and promptly denied the writ.  In considering Claimant’s appeal for mileage and attorney fees, the Court looked to La. R.S. 23:1201, which provides for the assessment of penalties and fees in the event of untimely mileage reimbursement, except if such nonpayment results from conditions out of the employer’s control. La. R.S. 23:1201(F)(2). The Court found that the prior judgment properly denied penalties and fees based on Employer’s payment of one-way reimbursement. Additionally, the Court assessed costs of the appeal proceeding to Claimant as the appellant.

Abshire v. Gueydan