In Memoriam: OWC Judge Varnado Passes Age 63

The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) announced the passing of Workers’ Compensation Judge Robert Varnado this week, noting that he “will be missed by everyone in the workers’ compensation community.” Judge Varnado presided over District 06 in Covington, Louisiana.

Judge Varnado had been a workers’ compensation judge since 1990. He was one of the first workers’ compensation judges appointed under the new administrative system. Judge Varnado was first assigned to the Franklinton workers’ compensation court, which was later moved to Covington. He served in the Covington workers’ compensation court for numerous years before being reassigned to New Orleans. Given the opportunity to transfer back to Covington, he accepted, and served there until his passing.

Patrick Robinson, former Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC) Director and workers’ comp judge, current defense attorney with Allen & Gooch, said, “It was a pleasure getting to know Judge Varnado during my time at OWC. To me, he was always unassuming and quietly competent, with a dry sense of humor. I remember more than once, sitting in some tedious presentation or another, and hearing Bob make a random, under-his-breath observation on the absurdities of bureaucracy that made me and all of his colleagues in listening range laugh. He was a good man and will be missed.”

Judge Varnado had a reputation as a fair-minded judge in a system that can often be contentious. “Judge Varnado was always kind and professional when dealing with attorneys and claimants,” said Bobby Truitt of the Truitt Law Firm in Covington. “As an attorney who works both sides of the fence, I can state, without equivocation, that he was a fair man and did what was right.”

It indeed seems that litigants from either side appreciated Judge Varnado. Pete Lewis, of Lewis & Caplan in New Orleans noted his consistent style. “I admired the way he handled his docket,” Lewis said. “He let lawyers practice law and didn’t use the rules of court to thwart lawyers from working together and extend each other professional courtesies. We [workers’ comp lawyers] will certainly miss him and his approach to matters before him.”

Kirk Landry, of Baton Rouge-based Keogh Cox, echoed the general sentiment. “Judge Varnado’s calm and even-handed approach on the bench will be sorely missed,” he said.

According to an obituary from ActionNews17, Judge Varnado was a Bogalusa native born October 6th, 1955. A visitation for family and friends will be held on Saturday, December 1st, 2018, at Pool-Ritchie Funeral Home in Bogalusa from noon to 2 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family asks mourners to make donations to Children’s Hospital of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.


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