The children of a man killed in an unwitnessed accident while working for Georgia Pacific in Port Hudson will receive workers’ comp death benefits, after the First Circuit determined that he was not impaired during the accident, despite a positive test for marijuana. Joseph Leon Boudreaux worked as a warehouseman for Georgia-Pacific. In August 2013, he was working alone during a night shift, operating a lift truck and loading materials onto trailers. An autopsy after his death revealed blunt force injuries to his chest and head, and a coroner’s investigation showed that Boudreaux’s injuries were possibly caused by the rear of a trailer he was loading. Post-accident blood and urine tests were positive for low levels of THC and the company employed the intoxication defense. The workers’ comp judge denied the benefits.
On appeal, Boudreaux’s children presented evidence from co-worker testimony and a forensic toxicologist. The First Circuit overturned the initial denial on these grounds, explaining that, “The co-workers’ deposition testimonies that Boudreaux was alert, did not appear to be impaired, and was acting normally as he performed his job on the night of the accident created a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether presumed intoxication contributed to the accident. Whether the co-workers’ statements are to be believed requires a credibility determination, which is inappropriate for summary judgment.” The case was remanded to the Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation for further consideration.