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Turner v. American Mutual Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Louisiana
390 So.2d 1330 (La. 1980)


Facts

Silton Turner (plaintiff) was a 20-year-old unskilled laborer. Turner was mentally challenged and limited in terms of academic skills and eye-hand motor coordination. Turner worked as a logger for American Mutual Insurance Company (American Mutual) (defendant). While cutting and moving logs in the woods at work, Turner seriously injured his right foot. Turner underwent two operations with Dr. Cedric Lowrey, who determined that Turner had a 30 to 40 percent disability of the foot and that the foot was easily susceptible to re-injury. Turner received workers’ compensation benefits based on his injury. Lowrey later determined that Turner could resume work on a trial basis, and American Mutual terminated Turner’s benefits. Turner sued American Mutual for his benefits on the ground that he was permanently disabled. Turner relied on the testimony of an orthopedist, who determined that Turner could not perform the duties of a logger because he could not stand or walk for extended periods. A vocational psychiatrist testified at trial that there were jobs available in Louisiana at which a person with Turner’s disability could work. No testimony was given as to whether there were jobs within a reasonable proximity to Turner’s residence at which a person with Turner’s physical and mental limitations could work. The trial court held that Turner was not disabled, as gainful employment was available to Turner in Louisiana. The court of appeal affirmed. Turner appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Dennis, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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