Falsified doctor's note nixes benefits claim for Florida worker
Ashi v. International Paper, 16 FLWCLB 167 (Fla. JCC, Tampa 2009).
A Florida judge of compensation claims denied the worker's petition for benefits for fraud. The worker falsified medical documents to indicate he was restricted to part-time work.
What it means:
The worker's submittal of a return-to-work slip that falsely indicates a part-time work restriction constitutes a misrepresentation to secure benefits under Florida law.
An assistant knife operator's hand was pulled into a machine and the tip of his finger was amputated. The doctor gave him a handwritten work slip, which read "Pt may start one-handed work." The worker provided the employer with a second return-to-work slip that had the letters "P.T." handwritten next to the typed restrictions. When the employer contacted the doctor's office and requested copies of the documents, the manager discovered that the doctor never issued a part-time restriction. The worker was terminated for falsifying doctor's records. The worker argued that because he notified the employer that it should not send him compensation, he was not intentionally attempting to secure benefits by misrepresentation. In rejecting this argument, the JCC noted that he called after the misrepresentation had been discovered and he was terminated. The fact that his misrepresentation was discovered prior to the payment of temporary partial disability benefits did not absolve the worker of responsibility for having made the misrepresentation. The JCC denied all benefits based on his intentional acts of misrepresentation in an attempt to secure benefits.
The doctor also indicated that the "Pt" written on the first note meant "patient" rather than "part-time." The worker stated that an employee in the doctor's office wrote "P.T." on the form as he was leaving the office. He subsequently changed his story and stated that his wife made the notation. At final hearing, the worker stated that he had taken 300 to 400 narcotic pills in two weeks, inferring that he was oblivious to anything he may have said or done during that period. The JCC found that the doctor never told the worker he was limited to part-time work. Without determining exactly who wrote "P.T." on the return-to-work slip, the JCC concluded that the worker intentionally misrepresented his work restrictions to the employer.
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January 4, 2010
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