The Louisiana Association of Self Insured Employers met July 14 in Baton Rouge for the association’s Legislative Recap of the 2021 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature.
The Legislative Review session was led by LASIE Executive Director Gary Patureau and attorney Wayne Fontana, managing partner of Roedel, Parsons, Koch, Blache, Balhoff and McCollister, New Orleans.
Among the bills discussed were:
House Bill 74 by Rep. Larry Frieman, R-Abita Springs, was passed with little objection. The measure has to do with adjuster license and domicile. According to Fontana, the insurance statute and the workers’ compensation statute were in conflict. The Dillard case came along, he explained, and said that every adjuster had to live in Louisiana.
In the appeal, Darlene Broussard sought review of the workers’ compensation court’s ruling denying her motion to compel defendant Dillard’s Department Store Inc. and Gallagher Bassett Services Inc. to retain a claims adjuster in Louisiana. Dillard’s is self-insured and claims are handled by third-party administrator Gallagher Bassett. The dispute involved a slip and fall incident (Broussard fell) and a difference of opinion between Broussard’s and Dillard’s physicians concerning whether or not Broussard could return to work performing light duty, according to FindLaw’s description of the case.
Broussard filed a motion to compel Dillard’s to retain an adjuster in Louisiana. The workers’ compensation court concluded that it did not have jurisdiction to decide because the issue is regulated by the Commissioner of Insurance.
In its decision, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal of Louisiana sided with Broussard and remanded the case to the workers’ compensation court.
Prior law required foreign and alien insurers issuing workers’ compensation policies in Louisiana to either maintain a claims office in Louisiana to handle the claim or retain the services of a Louisiana-domiciled independent claims adjuster.
House Bill 74 became effective Aug. 1, so now the insurer’s adjuster must have a Louisiana license, but is not required to live in Louisiana.
House Bill 179 by Rep. Michael “Gabe” Firment, R-Pollock, was enacted and deals with directors, officers and trustees of regulated domestic registered entities. The new law provides that a person serving as an officer, director or trustee of a domestic regulated entity shall within 30 days of election of appointment submit a request to the commissioner of insurance for a letter of no objection. Under the new law the commissioner may refuse to issue or rescind a letter of no objection under certain circumstances cited in the new law. The new law also provides that the commissioner may waive the submission of a biographic affidavit, third-party background verification and fingerprint card under certain circumstances.
At the end of the day the commissioner has to send a letter of no objection, according to Fontana, and the law provides a grandfather clause.
House Bill 164 by Rep. Robert Carter, D-Amite, passed through the legislature and became Act 174. The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure and deals with default judgments. Among other things the new law extends the time period from 15 days to 21 days for a defendant to file an answer. The new law provides that if a discovery request is served by the plaintiff with the petition, the defendant shall have 30 days within which to file an answer. The new law requires the plaintiff to send notice of his intent to obtain a default judgment before the court can render a default judgment. Act 174 is germane to the workers’ compensation business, because the workers’ comp court deals with default judgments.
House Bill 281 by Rep. Kathy Edmonston, R-Gonzales, did not pass. The proposal dealt with the continuing education for adjusters. The failed HB 281 passed the House Committee on Insurance without objection and later was withdrawn from the files of the House. The measure would have provided that claims adjusters could carry over 10 hours of continuing education credit into the next renewal period. The proposed law would have permitted a person teaching a continuing education course to qualify for the same number of hours as a person taking and successfully completing the course. The proposed law provided that the commissioner shall grant 24 hours of continuing education credits to a licensed adjuster who is a member of the legislature while that person is serving a term in the legislature.
“I think we may have the opportunity to see this bill again,” Fontana said.
HB 478 by Rep. Joe Stagni, R-Kenner, failed to pass. The bill was assigned to the House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations where it was considered and was not reported out of the committee.
The proposed law would have provided additional medical opinions for workers’ compensation claims. As filed, the bill proposed that before a disputed claim for compensation is filed, any party may file an application requesting an additional medical examination with the local workers’ compensation district office, and the district office would select and appoint the physician to perform an examination.
The proposed law also provided that after a disputed claim for compensation is filed, any party may file with a workers’ compensation judge a request for an additional medical opinion, and the workers’ compensation judge would select and appoint the physician to perform an examination.
“If this bill had passed, it would have affected your opportunity to have a fair process,” Patureau told the audience which was largely virtual.
Relative to the legislature, Fontana commented that the bottom line is each and every session is important. “Obviously, there are more fights in the regular session and fewer in a fiscal session,” he said, adding that victories are not as frequent, particularly with this administration.