Officer's drug sale activity cuts off permanent total disability benefits
Case name: State ex rel. McNea v. Industrial Commission of Ohio et al., No. 2012-Ohio-1296 (Ohio 03/29/12).
Ruling: The Ohio Supreme Court held that an officer's permanent total disability benefits should be terminated and constituted an overpayment because he engaged in sustained remunerative employment while receiving those benefits.
What it means: In Ohio, an injured worker's PTD benefits can be considered overpaid if he was doing sustained remunerative work, including the illegal sale of prescription drugs, at any time during which he was receiving PTD compensation.
Summary: A police officer was awarded permanent total disability compensation for injuries he sustained while working. At the time, he was being investigated by his own department for the suspected illegal sale of narcotics. He made four recorded sales to informants within a three-month period, netting $6,200. He was arrested, and later, he was sentenced to three years in prison. The Bureau of Workers' Compensation sought to terminate further PTD compensation and to declare past PTD benefits as overpaid. The Ohio Supreme Court held that the officer's PTD benefits should be terminated and constituted an overpayment.
The court explained that the focus should be on whether the officer was doing sustained remunerative work at any time when he was receiving PTD benefits. The court said that an "ongoing pattern" of activity could be considered sustained activity. The evidence established an ongoing pattern of phone calls and other sales-related activity that culminated in the four recorded sales. This was properly characterized as sustained remunerative employment.
The court also found that the officer continued to possess the medical ability to engage in such activity even after his arrest. There was no evidence that his medical condition changed after his arrest to preclude his "endeavor." There was also no evidence suggesting that he would have abandoned his "enterprise" had he not been arrested.
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May 21, 2012
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