Recent Take Nothing Award – Jeffrey J. Whitelaw – Mar 2017
Applicant, a 58 year-old, claimed they suffered a right knee injury while working at a landfill as an employee of a placement agency. The claim was denied following an employer-level investigation.
Applicant received significant conservative medical treatment and underwent a right knee MRI revealing significant damage. Applicant’s treating physician issued multiple reports indicating that applicant’s condition remained temporarily totally disabling. He also referred applicant to a specialist and thought applicant would ultimately require surgery on their knee. The parties also went to a PQME who opined that applicant’s injury was consistent with the described mechanism of injury.
Prior to trial, the parties had agreed to settle this matter for a $20,000.00 Compromise and Release. Applicant, however, then fired his attorney and retained new counsel. Applicant’s new attorney informed defendants that the case value was closer to $100,000.00, given the nearly 15 months of TTD potentially owed as well as expected permanent disability and future medical care.
After further settlement negotiations stalled, the parties conducted the AOE/COE trial. Applicant testified on his behalf and claimed that he had stepped into a sinkhole while working at the landfill causing the right knee injury. Applicant further testified that, immediately after injuring himself, they informed a co-worker, the landfill supervisor and their supervisor. Defendants presented two witnesses: applicant’s co-worker and their supervisor. Both denied that applicant had reported the injury on that day. Applicant’s supervisor further testified applicant had later come to his office and was paid for the week.
After hearing testimony, the trial Judge, ruled in defendants’ favor and issued a Take Nothing. The Judge found a number of inconsistencies in applicant’s testimony and found that defendants’ witnesses testified credibly.