Worker’s compensation is a conspiracy and insurers and employers
routinely conspire to defeat the claims of injured workers.
Where Does It Start?
The conspiracy begins with the law. Wealthy insurers and big business lobbied
your government for laws favorable for them that reduce the amounts an
injured worker can win if they are successful in their case. Under workers’
compensation laws, money is only awarded for disability (based on what
I call a “meat chart”) and your real harms and losses —
like the pain and suffering one goes through — are never fully paid
for by an employer even if you win your hearing. We could talk all day
about the legislative issues which harm workers’ rights, but I only
bring it up to point out that employers and insurers are cheating in a
game already rigged in their favor.
After a work injury you are immediately trapped in “The Workers Compensation
Conspiracy” – a complex system of insurance companies and
large employers who routinely cheat and lie to avoid paying claims. And,
to make matters worse, insurance companies and employers have the right
in Missouri to direct medical care. This lets their adjustors and smart
defense attorneys find and pay medical doctors large sums of money to
join with the defense team to defeat claims and cheat even the most seriously
injured workers. As a result, your work comp doctors have an inherent
conflict – they took an oath to help their patients, but they know
who is paying their bills and they want to keep that business.
More Details Behind Worker's Compensation
To add insult to your work injury, while the insurers and doctors and lawyers
are being paid handsomely to defeat your case and send you back to light
duty as soon as possible, you are getting paid a fraction of what you
usually earn. To discredit your claim, your employer’s human resources
department or your supervisor will obtain written and audio statements
from you, and will use them against you every chance they get. You will
be drug tested as a punishment for getting hurt. You will be followed,
investigated and sometimes video-recorded – even if you hired a
lawyer to represent you. I see these egregious practices happen nearly
I have personally fought these cheaters for 25 years before the Division
of Workers Compensation, the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission
and, less frequently, the Missouri Court of Appeals. Because cheating
harms my clients and destroys our justice system, when I catch an employer
cheating, I always want to take the case to trial and make a record of
the misconduct in an effort to prevent it from recurring. And I have.
I tell people about it, like I am doing here, because cheating angers
me, and because I like my clients. They work hard, suffer an injury, and
try to support themselves and their families on the pittance the law requires
they receive. This article will outline specific types of cheating I have
found, cite cases that prove it, and prove to you that there is a workers’
I have a current client who I have represented for over 20 years and whose
case I tried and won. I am proud to represent Dale Wieda and he has given
me permission to tell his story.
The Case of Dale Wieda
Dale herniated a disc at L4-L5 in his lumbar spine that caused damage to
his spinal column while pulling a c-clamp in the course of performing
his job at the Stupp Brothers. In his case, the employer authorized the
medical provider and chose Dr. Peter Mirkin who performed an unsuccessful
surgery that left Dale in pain. While Dale was still recovering, the defense
sent private investigators in cars with tinted windows to secretly video
him and when the surveillance people found nothing they tried not to produce
the videotapes to us. Ultimately, I only received some of the videos,
but I did use them at trial because they helped our case.
Anyway, I eventually deposed Dr. Mirkin and Dr. Mirkin’s sworn testimony
was that Mr. Wieda was not healing because he was diabetic and he was
not compliant with his diabetic medication. I had Dr. Mirkin testify clearly
about the diabetes and how that diabetes prevented the healing. The defense
offered us less than ten thousand dollars to resolve the case after the
deposition. I held back my laughter and I knew the problem with that testimony
is that Mr. Wieda did not have diabetes. I call that a lie. The Court
of Appeals said it too but a bit differently, calling Dr. Mirkin “biased,
uninformed, and not credible.” And Dale’s case is routinely
cited and has been used to prevent these lies from harming others. After
Dale’s case came other cases that said similar things about Dr.
Mirkin. Several other law firms have written briefs that cite and rely
on Dale’s case. Here is an excerpt from one of them:
Missouri Courts have found that Dr. Mirkin has a reputation for altering
his examination findings and testimony…. The commission in Abodi
took judicial notice that “Dr. Mirkin has previously materially
changed his testimony to suit his employer and has fabricated medical
conditions in order to suit his indefensible opinions.” Abodi at
p. 4. The commission in Ottinger found the testimony of Dr. Mirkin to
be “laden with falsehoods” and “utterly unworthy of
belief.” Ottinger at p. 2.
In Wieda v. Stupp Brothers, Inc., Injury No. 98-073505, Missouri Labor
and Industrial Relations Commission (2000), the Commission found that
“Dr. Mirkin, the defense medical expert, relied on erroneous facts
that were not contained anywhere in the record.” Wieda at p.6. “In
this case, Dr. Mirkin is a biased and uninformed witness. His opinions
are rejected.” Wieda at p.7. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed
the Commission’s decision in Weida, holding that the employee was
entitled to temporary total benefits and continuing medical treatment.
The court of Appeals held that “Employer’s medical expert,
Dr. Mirkin, was found to be biased, uninformed and not credible.”
Wieda v. Stupp Brother, Inc., 52 S.W.3d 602, 603 (Mo.App.E.D. 2001).
In Allen v. Grasser Electric Corp., Injury Nos. 96-124441 & 97-083569
(2002), the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (2000),
the Commission found the following:
We are not persuaded nor are we impressed by Dr. Mirkin’s opinions.
The Commission has previously determined that Dr. Mirkin parrots the opinions
of whoever is paying him and he is unworthy of belief. He was the only
doctor to state that claimant was fine and did not need any further treatment.
Because his opinion on the claimant’s need for further treatment
was so incredulous, we give not weight to his opinions on which accident
is responsible for claimant’s disability. Allen at p.5.
As you may have surmised, Mr. Wieda and I won his case despite Dr. Mirkin’s
testimony that diabetes prevented him from healing. The Employer was required
to pay benefits in a temporary award. We also won attorney fees and costs
as sanctions. The employer/insurer did not agree with our victory, and
appealed the case in an interim hearing with the Court of Appeals, which
is how Dale Wieda v. Stupp Brothers, Inc. Eastern District 78612 came
before that court. Unfortunately, the idea for this article comes out
of the same case. After 14 years the insurer recently sent the file for
an “Independent Review” to have some doctor that never examined
Mr. Wieda write a medical opinion that the medications Mr. Wieda takes
for pain are no longer required. However, because we secured an award
in the case we are in a great position to fight this new opinion and demand
both the medical care as well as reasonable attorney’s fees and
costs if they violate the court order.
It is now February 2018, and the Employer is still demanding that Mr. Wieda
see their doctor. This is an outrage, but is an example of the conspiracy
built to assist large employers and their insurers to defeat an injured
Another example of the medical conspiracy can be found in a hardship trial
we had against Charter Communications. My client was a good and loyal
employee of Charter who was hurt at work when he threw a heavy ladder
onto his truck and tore his rotator cuff. Charter sent him to Dr. Collard,
who reviewed an MRI, found a tear, and recommended surgery to repair it.
Unfortunately, when Dr. Collard did the surgery he did not locate the
tear and sewed my client back up without fixing the damage. Then, the
doctor sent G.O. to physical therapy, which he tried to complete but was
unable to because the tear in his shoulder was never fixed. When the injured
worker complained of intense pain, the physical therapy folks called him
a malingerer – a fancy term for liar. Dr. Collard could not understand
what was wrong and wanted to perform additional studies to find out, but
Charter refused to pay. So, I sent my client to a doctor who said a surgery
was required to fix the rotator cuff based on the MRI that everyone –
including Dr. Collard – had previously seen. Unfortunately, Charter
and their attorneys never told Dr. Collard of the new doctor’s opinion,
so Dr. Collard was unable to fix the problem rather than fight the case.
By the time Dr. Collard was deposed, Charter’s lawyers still had
not provided Dr. Collard with the operative report from Gabe’s second
surgery. To top it all off, while my client was recovering from his second
surgery, Charter stopped paying him his weekly benefits and sent him a
letter firing him.
Unfortunately for Charter, their strategy of denying necessary medical
care backfired when I filed a hardship petition. After the hardship hearing,
the judge not only ordered Charter to pay for a second surgery, but also
ordered Charter pay an additional 25% as sanctions for their unreasonable
defense of the claim. Charter was ordered to pay $73,344.55, which included
$19,362.21 payable to Mark Cantor as sanctions for attorney fees and expenses.
Charter must also pay the weekly benefits that Charter terminated plus
25% as sanctions each week.
Worker’s compensation doctors are hired to testify to outrageous
positions that are carefully crafted by the employers, defense lawyers,
and insurance companies. A prime example of this tactic is evidenced in
another case - T.H. v. Sonic Drive-In of High Ridge.
A Case Regarding Sexual Assault
A few years ago, I represented a young woman that was raped in the men’s
bathroom of the Sonic where she worked. I successfully tried the case
before the Division of Workers Compensation in Crystal City Missouri,
the Labor & Industrial Relations Commission in Jefferson City, Missouri
and The Eastern District Court of Appeals in St. Louis. At every level,
the judges agreed that my client was raped at work. Nevertheless, the
Employer/Insurer defended the case with the outrageous position that T.H.
was not raped — even though the offender had pleaded guilty to five
counts of child molestation, sodomy and other heinous sexually devious
crimes. After his guilty pleas, I went to his jailhouse in Jefferson County
and made him testify for his deposition in the workers compensation case
where he denied the rape and started screaming obscenities at me.
Throughout my work on the case, the employer maintained their outrageous
position that my client was not raped. The employer even went so far as
to hire Dr. Melissa Harbit – a “forensic psychiatrist”
– to testify at trial. Dr. Harbit swore within a reasonable degree
of medical certainty that if there was a rape, the rape did not cause
any permanent psychiatric disability. The trial was necessitated by the
extreme fact pattern and the employer’s unreasonable defense, and
we prevailed at her hearing and at all appeals.
The case is regularly cited in Missouri for a significant procedural victory
as well: the employer in a work comp case has a limited time to file an
answer, and when Sonic failed to file in time — probably because
they were busy concocting their disgraceful defense — they effectively
admitted every fact alleged in T.H.’s claim. That included her average
weekly wage, which was pleaded as the maximum allowable under Missouri
law. So, even though my client’s PTSD prevented her at trial from
remembering how much she was paid, Sonic’s late answer cost them:
the Court of Appeals found that since no evidence of wage had been presented,
and wages are factual allegations, my client was entitled to the maximum
weekly rate, and not the minimum of only $40.00 per week. So, T.H. received
nearly $65,000 more due to Sonic’s blunder. Now, every injured worker
can allege they were paid the maximum weekly wage, and a late answer binds
the employer to that amount.
While the Worker’s compensation claim was being tried and won, we
concurrently filed a civil lawsuit against Sonic for premises liability
and secured a separate policy limits recovery for our client for her injuries
relating to the sexual assault.
These are just a few stories to illustrate what can occur in a Workers’
Compensation case even with vigilant representation. At Cantor Injury
Law, we have represented thousands of injured workers and routinely help
people who have been injured at work. You likely need our help if you
see the following common fact patterns in your case:
Workers’ Compensation accepts the claim and pays for your surgery.
Your surgeon evaluates your disability at 1%., and the insurance adjuster
and the lawyer offer you 5% disability to resolve your case. You are probably
being cheated and the adjuster and lawyer tandem are deceiving you by
offering more than the paltry rating, but much less than the full value
of your claim.
Workers’ Compensation insurance accepts your claim and pays for your
surgery. The surgeon provides the surgery and then issues a final opinion
that your condition is not related to work, but was caused by pre-existing
conditions (like arthritis or degeneration) and rates your disability
at 0%, and you are being cheated. You are entitled to permanent partial
disability – and if your employer paid for your surgery, they know
A nurse case manager goes to each of your medical appointments and asks
the doctor to release you from medical care. You feel the nurse and doctors
are working against you. Under Missouri law, an employee is entitled to
bring his own physician to any examination by a work comp doctor, which
helps to keep work comp doctors honest. Also, we can stop the nurse from
speaking to you at all or being there for your examination.
Your employer tells you not to file a claim and that you should use private
insurance and he will pay your co-pays. The employer reminds you that
he pays your health insurance and encourages you to use your own health
insurance rather than to use your workers’ compensation claim. You
finish treatment and the employer takes the position that you had no work
injury. Here, you are being deprived of other benefits afforded to you,
like temporary total disability (if you are taken off work) and permanent
partial disability (the lump sum awarded based on your injury).
You injure yourself at work, and you are worried that if you file a claim
you will be fired as a result of pursuing your workers’ compensation
claim. Many people have this fear, but the only way to protect yourself
is to actually file the claim. Missouri law protects workers who pursue
their rights under the workers’ compensation law, so unless you
file a claim you are not covered by this law.
The employer argues that you violated a safety rule and that the violation
caused your injury. Employer alleges that you were high on drugs or alcohol
at the time of the injury. Missouri’s employer-friendly laws allow
severe penalties against workers for safety violations, but barely punish
employers who routinely place their workers in unsafe situations.
You have a severe injury of a delineated body part, such as an amputation
of the end of your first finger. Your pointer finger is valued at 30 weeks
of pay, and employer tells you that is all your injury is worth. Your
employer is being dishonest: a complete amputation is worth 110% of the
body part; and I have never seen anyone lose a part of their finger without
it affecting their entire hand or causing disfigurement, pain, or additional
psychiatric disability. Don’t underestimate the value of psychiatric
permanent partial disability – it is real and compensable.
You are injured in a car collision case while at work and someone tells
you that you only have a civil law suit. That is not true – you
also have a workers’ compensation claim and that workers’
compensation claim should be filed first. When you win your comp case,
and later win your civil case, you may have to pay back some money to
the work comp insurer, but there is nevertheless an advantage to filing
You are friends with your employer and you are worried if you file a claim
they will not be able to get insurance. That is not true: Missouri has
insurance available for any employer who has five or more employees, and
employers are required to comply with workers’ compensation laws.
You are released to light duty and the employer assigns you a job that
seems abusive or unfair or wants you to work beyond the medical restrictions.
These employers are jeopardizing your health and well-being, and you are
not required to work beyond the restrictions. If no work is available
within your medical restrictions, you are entitled to weekly benefits
while you recover from your injury, and the worker’s compensation
insurer knows that law so don’t be cheated.
If you have a serious injury in Missouri or Illinois, call Mark Cantor
or my firm,
Cantor Injury Law, at 314-628-9999.