Camera said to capture $12.8 M winner’s “victory dance”

by Walter Olson on August 12, 2010

“The city of Seattle is seeking to overturn a $12.8 million judgment awarded to a former firefighter, who claimed he was permanently disabled by an on-duty fall, after investigators secretly shot video of the man chopping wood, playing horseshoes and bocce ball, and even breaking into a victory dance.” [Jennifer Sullivan, Seattle Times]

{ 6 comments }

1 Leafs 08.12.10 at 1:42 pm

I looked at the video and this appears to be a shade of grey. In the few edits, he talks about how he feels like an 80 year old man, and the article states he needs 24/7 care, but in the video, also just a few seconds, he doesn’t appear to move normally, but he can move. If anything, most of the outrage is probably that the settlement is too high.

2 nevins 08.13.10 at 7:03 am

Could be some of his apparent movement impairment is nothing more than morbid obesity. With that gut he would likely not pass a firefighter’s physical regardless of his alleged disabilities.
I wonder what his physical condition was prior to his fall, and whether he was likely to end up ‘disabled’ anyway as a result of his fatness.

3 William Nuesslein 08.13.10 at 9:40 am

Leafs’ comment above speaks of shades of gray. That is excessive open mindedness.

I watch many trials on court TV a few years back. Almost all testimony was self serving. Pumpkin Pie in the Phil Spector trial was particularly troubling as someone trying to gain from the murder of a friend.

The heroic first responders manged to extort an unwarranted $700 settlement from the Federal Government for health problems from their work at 9/11′s ground zero. The exposures were outdoors, where the air was constantly refreshed. Although there was a claim of a positive reading for toxins, none of the sensors reporting to the EPA had a positive reading of toxins in the air.

4 Leafs 08.13.10 at 12:51 pm

I will agree with William on his statement “Almost all testimony was self serving.” In this case, I feel the same about the plantif testamony that shows a few select out takes. This was not like the guy nailed a few years ago playing full contact soccer while disabled. I am skeptical that the gentleman is as disabled as he claims, and I am skeptical about a few seconds of video insinuating he’s a fraud. He did suffer serious injuries, but there are a lot of open questions about how disabled is he? He’s definately not able to work as a firefighter, but could he work a desk job? How much care does he genuinely need? As Nevins points out, is his obesity a factor? What was his physical conditioning before the accident? As there is not enough information provided in the video or article, I can’t make a logical decision about how disabled is he. Saying that, almost 13 mill for his injuries is excessive considering he is able to resume many activities.

5 William Nuesslein 08.14.10 at 9:35 am

The couple of times when I had back pain, and almost every guy has back pain at some time, I could not swivel my hips as the fellow did in the video.

The $12.8 should have been contingent on the amount of 24 hour care that was provided. At a minimum, the doctor who said the fellow needed the 12 hour care should have 24 years of prison time, along with the witless judge and jury!

6 Anonymous Attorney 08.16.10 at 11:11 am

I defended worker’s comp cases in Virginia. We’d often have video of claimants doing work outside, loading and unloading cars, etc. (I’ve even heard of occasions where insurance company investigators would film them doing drug deals!)

In any event, you’d be suprised at how unmoved the deputy commissioners were by these videos.

The truth is that the No. 1 factor driving whether a person works or not is WILL. You could have a man lose a few fingers and be back in several days, or a man who wanted to milk the system turn a back strain into a life-long injury.

Most state worker’s comp systems are pretty liberal, and take the claimant at his word when he says “I just can’t do it.” It fits my general theory that the trough expands to fit the number of pigs in the barnyard.

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