PAISD wants woman's disability pay stopped

David Yates Oct. 18, 2007, 6:30am

David Oubre

The Port Arthur Independent School District has filed suit against an employee in hopes the court will reverse an insurance hearing that awarded the woman continued disability payments.

PAISD filed the suit against Rutha Ned in the Jefferson County District Court on Oct. 16. Judge Bob Wortham, 58th Judicial District, will preside over the case.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, Ned had injured her back on Oct. 31, 2005, and has been drawing compensatory benefits since her injury. The petition does not give Ned's employment capacity for the district or the details of the incident.

PAISD argues that Ned had pre-existing lumbar conditions, and that she "reached maximum medical improvement" in June 2006.

A contested case hearing was held on June 30, 2006, in which a hearing officer awarded Ned continued disability payments.

"Claimant's (Ned's) compensable injury…caused her to aggravate pre-existing lumbar degenerative disc disease, facet arthropathy, ligamentous hypertrophy, degenerative end plate changes at the L2, L3, L5, and S1 spinal levels, Grade I anterolisthesis of L3 on L4, lumbar instability at the L3-4 level, lumbar stenosis, and spondylolisthesis," the suit said.

PAISD submitted an MRI and medical testimony to prove its point at the hearing. But since the hearing officer ruled in Ned's favor, the district is now asking Judge Wortham to overturn the hearing officer's decision.

"The pre-existing degenerative problems of the Claimant were evident in the MRI…," the suit said. "Dr. Bourgeois determined that Rutha Ned was at maximum medical improvement with regard to the injuries she sustained on Oct. 31, 2005."

PAISD also submitted medical evidence that asserted Ned merely strained her back, the suit said.

"These findings of fact and conclusions of law are against the great weight of medical evidence," the suit said. "It is clear… Ned sustained a back strain. The underlying degenerative changes including all of the conditions listed in her MRI dated Dec. 15, 2005 were pre-existing conditions."

The school district is represented by attorney David Oubre of the Benckenstein, Norvell & Nathan law firm in Beaumont.

Case No. A180-526

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