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Liability for Hearing Loss as a Result of Noise - Louisiana Supreme Court Addresses the Issue

Julius P. Hebert Jr. and Brian J. Marceaux - Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NO. 2013-C-2878 CONSOLIDATED WITH NO. 2013-C-2981 -  Arrant v. Graphic Packaging International, Inc.

This case presented a res nova issue for the Louisiana Supreme Court: whether gradual noise induced hearing loss caused by occupational exposure to hazardous noise levels was a personal injury by accident or an occupational disease, or both, under the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act ("LWCA"), thereby entitling the defendant employer to immunity from suits in tort under the exclusivity provisions of the LWCA. Interpreting the Act and mindful of the clear legislative purpose behind the workers' compensation scheme, the Louisiana Court found occupational noise-induced hearing loss fell squarely within the parameters of the LWCA, either the pre-1990 definition of “accident” or the post-1975 definition of “occupational disease.” As such, the Court concluded the defendants were entitled to immunity from suits in tort under the LWCA. Accordingly, the court of appeal properly reversed the judgment of the district court and dismissed the plaintiffs' claims.