Thursday, August 5, 2010

Collects Workers' Comp and Cash Stripping--uh, That's a Problem


As a rule most states allow you to collect workers' compensation benefits for a portion of your lost wages, at least temporarily, while you are totally disabled from your former position of employment. Problems arise when injured workers resume working while collecting disability benefits without telling claims administrators in their individual states that they have gone back to work.  This is unfortunately a problem for the lovely Mrs. Christina Gamble (pic) who decided to supplement her benefits with cash from stripping. This is the Attorney General of Pennsylvania's discussion of the issues inherent in the practice of collecting workers' compensation benefits while collecting cash for taking off your clothes:

"A Quakertown woman was arrested today following charges that she filed a false injury claim preventing her from working her job as a waitress, yet during the time she was collecting Workers Compensation benefits, she worked as an exotic dancer.

Attorney General Tom Corbett said that Christina Gamble, 43, 2 Braxton Court, Quakertown faces theft and insurance fraud charges in connection with the alleged false claims.  Corbett said that on Nov. 9, 2007, Gamble reported that she slipped and fell during her work shift, allegedly injuring her back; and she resigned before her shift ended. On Nov. 12, 2007, her former employer submitted an accident report with Highmark Casualty Insurance Company.

The charges state that Gamble told her doctor that she was unable to work, and that standing and changing positions were a problem.  According to the criminal complaint, eight days after that doctor's appointment, Gamble was observed working as an exotic dancer in Easton.

'Gamble allegedly claimed that she suffered injuries that left her unable to work,' Corbett said. 'But, she was observed working as an exotic dancer during the time she was supposedly injured and collecting Workers Compensation payments.'

The charges state that Highmark paid $22,727 in disability benefits and $4,118 in medical expenses relating to Gamble's claim.

Gamble is charged with two counts of Workers Compensation insurance fraud and one count of theft by deception. The charges are all third-degree felonies and carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine each.  Gamble was preliminarily arraigned before Quakertown Magisterial District Judge C. Robert Roth and released on her own recognizance."
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In reality, this is a trivial case compared to the dozens of fraud cases I've seen over the last 30 years.  Usually, the fraud is exposed by a so-called friend or acquaintance of the worker.  Usually someone with a grudge or simply offended by the rip off.

The Blond Super Lawyer (the one that I'm married to,) represents corporations of all sizes in the defense of their workers' compensation programs.  She's brought fraud charges across a range of situations.  In one instance a roofer claimed total disability from "carpal tunnel syndrome" he attributed to removing and attaching roofing shingles.  He was filmed riding broncos at a regional rodeo event.  In another instance an employee of a factory the BSL represented was filmed going in and out of his doctor's office using a walker and a C-collar and placed on video doing the full-death-metal-head-and-neck-flexion with his local band Iron Toaster.  A case we handled jointly involved a street "reverend" who dressed for his hearings like a pimp.  The Reverend claimed total disability from a machine shop while he ran a housing rehabilitation business collecting money from HUD.  The Reverend had what Sarah Palin admires in others, cojones, charging HUD with discrimination for not giving him his share of the available contract work.

6 comments:

  1. In Ohio there is a legal standard of "return to remunerative employment" that must be established.

    One can guess that the investigator in PA have some surveillance video, that would be a fun hearing to attend though I doubt it would go to hearing based on these facts.

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