Louisiana: Police Officer Fails To Establish Acute Appendicitis Claim Was Connected to Fall at Police Station

A Louisiana appellate court recently affirmed a finding by the Office of Workers’ Compensation that granted an employer police department’s motion for summary judgment regarding a claim filed by a police officer who contended she sustained injury in the form of acute appendicitis after falling down a staircase at her police station [Garcia v. City of New Orleans Police Dep’t, 2013 La. App. LEXIS 649 (Apr. 3, 2013)]. 

The court observed that the police officer’s medical expert testified that he did not know if he could give a cause to the claimant’s acute appendicitis, but he noted that the proximity of the fall made one feel that the fall could have been a possibility. The expert further acknowledged that some medical literature indicated that blunt trauma could be a cause of acute appendicitis, though it was rare.

The court noted that claimant’s medical expert hedged somewhat, however, explaining that acute appendicitis could also be idiopathic and that it was possible that the claimant’s appendicitis could have been idiopathic, and the trauma was coincidental. According to the court, the probabilities were left equally balanced between the fall causing the appendicitis and the appendicitis being idiopathic. The expert could not say that the officer’s appendicitis was more probably than not caused by her fall. The claimant officer had failed to satisfy her evidentary burden at trial; summary judgment was appropriate.

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