May 8, 2012

Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
Managing Partner
305-670-1101 Ext. 123

Workers’ Compensation Claim/Post-Termination Wage Loss

Juan Carlos Garcia

LAKELAND, Florida – Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., trial attorney, Juan Carlos Garcia, a partner in the Tampa office, representing the employer/carrier, Crothall Laundry Service, Inc., (Crothall)/Gallagher Bassett Services, obtained a Final Compensation Order denying the claimant temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits.
Crothall hired the claimant on October 28, 2010. She was advised that unexcused absences, early departures, and tardiness would result in the accrual of points and that the accrual of seven points could lead to termination of employment. On May 18, 2011 claimant requested time off in July to visit her family in Atlanta. Such request was denied since she had exhausted all of her vacation time; and on various occasions, had been tardy, left early and had unexcused absences. The claimant was counseled several times and reminded that any additional points could result in her employment termination.
The following month, on June 29, the claimant reported that since May 4 she had been experiencing problems moving her left hand and wrist. Treatment was authorized. The claimant was seen on June 29, 2011 and allowed to return to work the following day, June 30. Physical restrictions imposed were accommodated for by having her work on lightweight and small piece items.
The office manager diligently resolved a problem with the claimant’s prescription. She also advised the claimant to use her break or lunchtime to get the prescription filled and cautioned her not to return late since an accumulation of another point could lead to her employment termination. The claimant did not return to work after leaving to get her prescription filled and her employment was terminated for walking off the job.
According to the claimant’s testimony, she could not return to work in a timely fashion. During live testimony, the employer demonstrated they were unaware that the claimant was not getting her prescription filled at a nearby pharmacy; instead, she decided to travel across town to a Walmart. According to the employer, claimant left her job without cause.
The defense showed factual evidence of inconsistencies, including a discrepancy between the claimant’s written request for vacation and her actual testimony, leading the claimant to admit her written request was wrong. In finding an intervening cause for claimant’s wage loss and termination for cause, the burden shifted toward the claimant – to show cause between the compensable injury and post-termination wage loss – no such evidence was produced. The defense also pointed out that post-termination, the claimant did not engage in job search activity thus limiting her income.
The Judge of Compensation Claim sided with the employer’s factual testimony and argument presented by Mr. Garcia.

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