Video Surveillance Supports Forfeiture of Benefits

The First Circuit Court of Appeal of Louisiana recently affirmed a workers’ compensation judge’s ruling that a claimant forfeited her right to workers’ compensation benefits due to her willful false statements made in order to recover workers’ compensation benefits.

The claimant alleged various orthopedic injuries following an accident at work.  The employer moved for summary judgment, submitting as evidence the claimant’s deposition testimony and complied video surveillance recordings, in addition to other documents.  In the deposition testimony, the claimant maintained that her pain prevented her from lifting anything heavier than a loaf of bread and from driving a car.  Surveillance footage, however, revealed claimant driving a car on multiple occasions in addition to using her arm.  The workers’ compensation judge granted the summary judgment, finding that the claimant made false statements and misrepresentations for the purpose of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.

The claimant appealed the decision, arguing that the surveillance was not conclusive proof that she willfully made a false statement for the specific purpose of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.  Maintaining that surveillance may form the basis of a forfeiture, the Court of Appeal affirmed the workers’ compensation judge’s ruling, finding that the false statements made by the claimant constituted willful fraudulent actions.

Malone-Watson v. Strategic Restaurants