If you have experienced symptoms from working in a moldy work environment, you might think you are entitled to recover from your employer. However, navigating the Workers’ Compensation system can be challenging partly because of the distinct and often complicated vocabulary in the statutes. This case involves defining an occupational disease under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act.
Angela Lyle worked in the payroll department at Brock Services. Her office was in a trailer in Norco, Louisiana, at the Valero plant. Lyle claimed she saw mold throughout the trailer that increased over the two years she worked at the site. She suffered from fatigue, burning eyes, sores, and other symptoms. After suffering a nosebleed, she underwent a medical evaluation. Testing confirmed mold was present in the office, so Lyle’s trailer was replaced. Once the trailer was replaced, some of Lyle’s symptoms went away, but others persisted, and new symptoms emerged.
She resigned and was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in her lungs and lymph nodes. She then filed a claim with the Workers’ Compensation, claiming she had suffered an occupational disease and was entitled to damages. The workers’ compensation judge denied her claim as neither her mold exposure nor the development of sarcoidosis qualified as an occupational disease or accident under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act. Brock filed a summary judgment motion, arguing Lyle could not establish sarcoidosis was an occupational disease. The workers’ compensation judge granted Brock’s summary judgment motion, finding Lyle’s sarcoidosis was not an “occupational disease. Lyle appealed, arguing the workers’ compensation judge ignored the definition of an “occupational disease” under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act.