Industry notches up big win in LA Supreme Court victory concerning workplace hearing loss
Louisiana Record | Louisiana’s Legal Journal
May 12, 2015
NEW ORLEANS – Last week the Louisiana Supreme Court handed down a legal precedent that appears to put a halt on several tort cases in which employees working in loud work places have sued their employers for personal injury over hearing loss instead of pursuing workers’ compensation actions.
Over the past few years there has been an uptick in the number of personal injury lawsuits filed by industrial workers who claim they received personal injuries through working in loud, mostly industrial workplaces.
However, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled last week in favor of defendant Graphic Packing International Inc., the owner and operator of a paper mill, box and carton plant in West Monroe where plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit claim their hearing was damaged due to being subjected to hazardous industrial noises during their employment at the facility. While the 4th Judicial District Court in Ouachita Parish initially ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and granted them damages of $50,000 apiece, that ruling was later overturned on appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a 5-2 ruling, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the appeals court finding in favor of Graphic Packing International Inc. The majority decision noted that while the hearing loss may have occurred it was during the course and scope of the class members’ employment which should be regulated as an “occupational disease” under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act.