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A former Slidell Police Department officer who is in three different courts with his ex-employer said he hopes his workers comp case appears before the state Supreme Court.
A court opinion issued by the First Circuit Court of Appeal in December sided with the lower court stating 46-year-old Troy R. Franklin’s workers compensation claims should be dismissed while also claiming a 2008 death threat only accelerated pre-existing mental problems.
The appellate court argued Franklin’s claims did not meet the standard of being clear and convincing evidence to prove a past death threat was the single incident to cause mental stress.
Franklin was once a senior corrections officer for the SPD and head of the Slidell Municipal Jail.
“It will be going to the Supreme Court,” Franklin argued when reached by phone last week. “I will be filing. What I did was I filed for a rehearing on the matter.”
According to Franklin, once he files for a rehearing on the case it will surrender to a judicial review and possibly before the high court. Franklin currently is in court with the City of Slidell and the SPD in 22nd Judicial Court, federal court and just left the First Circuit Court of Appeal.
“I’m going to tell you right now - I’m not stopping. They did everything they could do to run me out,” Franklin said of the police department.
“I came about as close as anybody has come,” Franklin said with regards to workers compensation cases involving mental status. “I’m pretty close to getting approved. To get one judge to dissent was good also. I think I can win in the Supreme Court.”
Judge Gwendolyn F. Thompson presided over the case along with Division C Judges Randolph H. Parro, Jewel E."Duke" Welch and Jefferson D. Hughes III. Only Hughes III dissented and as quoted in an opinion, Hughes said, “I respectfully dissent. I would find that the claimant is entitled to benefits under the facts of this case.”
Doctors’ reports have stated that Franklin underwent job-related stress, depression and other issues while on the job. Nonetheless, the appellate court sided with a Dec. 2 judgment that said Franklin’s mental state could not be pinpointed to a death threat delivered by former co-worker Capt. Robert Jacobs. The court of appeal further suggested Franklin was using the incident as a catalyst to gain medical retirement.
Franklin began working for the police department in 1991. In September 2009, he filed claims for compensation alleging post-traumatic stress caused by the death threat. On the morning of Sept. 5, 2008, Franklin was in the Slidell Police’s booking room when Jacobs walked in and told him that he was feeling suicidal and was ready to take others with him. Supposedly in front of witnesses, Jacobs told Franklin he was at the top of the list.
Franklin has been quoted as saying he saw Jacobs as more of threat than any of the criminals around him. He claims he was denied medical benefits and worker’s compensation payments while also claiming to have been denied a second opinion from a doctor of his choice.
Franklin continued to work alongside Jacobs for nine months. The city and the Slidell Police Department argued that both men had longstanding personal conflicts in the workplace and that the death threat couldn’t have been the single source of Franklin’s mental state.
“The record shows that from the time he began his employment with the department, Franklin was harassed by Jacobs. However, although Franklin was understandably irritated by this behavior, it did not cause him any significant or constant anxiety, and he was able to handle these situations,” the opinion said.
Franklin was eventually placed on catastrophic leave, but in June 2011 he returned to work after a city recommended doctor, Cary D. Rostow, found no compelling evidence Franklin was suffering from a serious mental problem.
The former jailer was let go from the police department last year after he was found in direct contempt of court for ignoring the questions of a City Court judge, disobeying orders, speaking to the media without permission and insubordination. Franklin’s case was heard before the Slidell Civil Service Board. The board, after three separate hearings, upheld Franklin’s termination.
According to Franklin, his appeals process involving his termination was a “three-ring circus.” He further said board members already had their minds made up before he could even present his defense.
“It would have been foolish for me to present anything. That’s why the last night I came and cut it short,” he said.
With regards to the workers compensation claims, Franklin says the appellate court did not recognize that the ongoing harassment by Jacobs simply delayed his recovery. He claims the City should have been responsible for providing him with counseling as requested in January 2009.
They’ve been fighting me for five years using outside law firms and lawyers, yet they’re having budget problems, Franklin said.
“They’re all stretching it,” he added.