Worker's poor credibility nixes benefits for alleged work accident
Case name: Sharpe v. Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc., 112 MIWCLR 103 (Mich. C.A.C. 2012).
Ruling: The Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission affirmed the magistrate's decision denying benefits to a worker, who alleged she was working at a retail store when a customer caused her to hit her knee on a metal pole.
What it means: In Michigan, the commission will defer to the magistrate's credibility determination where such determination is reasonable. The magistrate's finding that a worker was not credible is reasonable when a worker avoided a scheduled drug screen and possessed access to pain medication, possibly through a prescription that predated her work injury.
Summary: A commission majority affirmed the magistrate's decision denying benefits to a worker, who alleged she was working at a retail store and preparing for a sidewalk sale when a customer bumped her, causing her to hit her left knee on a metal pole. The commission deferred to the magistrate's negative credibility assessment of the worker and the resulting conclusion that the worker failed to show that she experienced a personal injury arising out of and in the course of her employment with the store.
The commission noted the magistrate's concern with the indication that the worker possessed access to Vicodin and OxyContin before she allegedly fell at the medical clinic before she could provide a drug screen. A prior prescription for such medications could indicate significant problems with pain management that would have predated the alleged work injury.
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February 4, 2013
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