Failure to Disclose Prior Accidents Results in Dismissal

Claimant was employed as a maintenance mechanic for Employer when he injured his shoulder while pushing a drum across a grate to weigh it. Claimant filed a disputed claim for compensation regarding the nature and extent of his disability. Employer in turn countered that Claimant made willful and false statements for the purpose of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. Particularly, Claimant testified that he had no previous workers’ compensation claims and no previous motor vehicle accidents. Through the process of discovery, Employer learned that Claimant in fact was in multiple motor vehicle accidents and also had filed two previous workers’ compensation claims.

Louisiana law was intended to prevent and discourage fraud in relation to workers’ compensation claims. A claimant will forfeit his benefits if (1) he makes a false statement or representation; (2) it is willfully made, and (3) it is made for the purpose of obtaining or defeating any benefit or payment.

Accordingly, Employer filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. In response to the motion, Claimant was only able to produce two pages of deposition testimony wherein he testified that he had been taking prescription medication that might have affected his memory. The Court found that there was no evidence to show that Claimant’s failure to identify these previous claims was inadvertent or explainable. The Court therefore affirmed the lower court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of Employer.

Morris v. Textron Marine and Land Systems, Inc.