Note by V. Sheridan DuPont
On appeal from the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal, the Louisiana Supreme Court decided whether noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is covered under the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act (LWCA), a res nova issue. The plaintiffs, elderly, retired employees of paper mills and box plants, suffered gradual NIHL and brought tort claims against their employers. They claimed the hearing loss was caused by industrial noise at the defendants-employers' plants. The employees asserted that the employers were negligent because they failed to provide a safe working environment. The employers claimed immunity from tort suits under the LWCA.
The Louisiana Fourth Judicial District Court treated the case as a tort suit and found that industrial noise at the employers' plants was a substantial cause of the NIHL. The court awarded damages to the employees. The Louisiana Second Circuit reversed, holding that NIHL is an “occupational disease” covered by the LWCA. Therefore, the employees' only remedy was under the LWCA, and tort immunity was granted to the employers. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted petitions for writs from both parties to clarify “whether . . . NIHL is a covered ‘personal injury by accident’ and/or an ‘occupational disease’ within the meaning of the LWCA.” The Louisiana Supreme Court held that the LWCA covers NIHL under the definitions of both “occupational disease” and “personal injury by accident.” Arrant v. Graphic Packaging International, Inc., 2013-2878, 2013-2981 (La. 5/5/15); 169 So. 3d 296.
About the Author
J.D. candidate 2017, Tulane University Law School; B.S. 2009, Taylor University.
90 Tul. L. Rev. 1007 (2016)