First Circuit Upholds OWC Judgment Finding Claimant Forfeited Workers’ Compensation Benefits Due to False Statements

In a recent case, Elmer Creel, Jr. v. American Pride, Inc., the Claimant, Elmer Creel, Jr. was involved in a work-related motor vehicle accident and subsequently filed a disputed claim for compensation against his employer, American Pride, Inc. Following a hearing, the hearing officer for the Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC) in the State of Louisiana rendered a judgment in favor of American Pride finding that Claimant forfeited his entitlement to benefits pursuant to La. R.S. 23:1208 due to willful and false statements he made in attempting to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.

Claimant Appeal to First Circuit

Claimant appealed to the First Circuit, which found that a reasonable factual basis existed for the hearing officer’s denial affirmed. Specifically, the Court noted the record was filled with inconsistencies regarding the accident and Claimant’s medical history. Notably, Claimant told his treating physicians and testified at trial that the severity of the accident and damage to his vehicle were much worse than the evidence showed. Claimant testified he had completely recovered from a fractured back that resulted in cervical and lumbar fusions, however, the medical records indicated Claimant was undergoing treatment for his back pain regularly in the months prior to the accident. This included considering removal of the fusion hardware to address lingering pain.