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Florida: JCC's Credibility Findings Sufficient to Withstand Employer's Fraud Charge

July 26, 2020 (1 min read)

A JCC's decision finding that a workers' compensation claimant had not knowingly misrepresented her post-injury earnings was affirmed by a state appellate court in spite of considerable evidence that contrary. The claimant sustained a work-related back injury in September 2015. The employer/carrier provided various benefits, including covering the cost of back surgery. In 2019, however, the employer filed petitions to disqualify claimant from further benefits on the grounds that she had misrepresented her earnings in various filings. In a series of depositions and finally at a hearing, the claimant admitted that she had applied for a job as a delivery driver and had been paid various sums, which she had declared on her federal tax returns. She contended, however, that she had done so on behalf of her husband, since he did not have a bank account. She admitted that she usually accompanied him on the delivers and up until some point had completed the necessary paperwork for her husband at the time of the deliveries. Further evidence showed that she had signed an application with the delivery firm and had then signed an independent contractor agreement. The JCC found her explanation credible, however, and refused to disqualify her from additional benefits. The appellate court affirmed, noting that the JCC had characterized claimant as a "credible witness, but a remarkably poor historian" [Opinion, p. 7]. The court agreed that the "wages" might have been paid to the claimant, but found there was evidence to support the JCC's finding that those wages had not "been earned."

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See LSG Sky Chefs, Inc. v. Santaella, 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 10334 (1st DCA July 20, 2020)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 39.03.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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