Video Evidence Used in Texas Workers’ Comp Fraud Case

June 11, 2003

Texas Judge Bill Bender in the 403rd Judicial District Court found Thomas O’Laughlin guilty of workers’ compensation fraud after O’Laughlin pleaded no contest. According to Texas Mutual Insurance Company, the judgment marked the end of a long legal battle that began with months of proceedings at the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission (TWCC), where O’Laughlin and his doctor argued against the admission of video evidence showing O’Laughlin moving a 500-pound entertainment center.

O’Laughlin contended he suffered a shoulder injury while working for Heart Employee Leasing Inc., and as a result, was unable to work. Texas Mutual, Heart Employee Leasing’s insurance carrier, challenged the validity of the claim. Just days after recording the videotape, a Texas Mutual investigator also recorded O’Laughlin denying any activity at all.

Texas Mutual submitted the video evidence at a TWCC contested case hearing. After reviewing the tape, two doctors offered their opinions that O’Laughlin’s injury could not be as serious as he claimed. The TWCC hearing officer agreed and ordered O’Laughlin’s income benefits canceled, stating in his ruling that the video evidence “showed conclusively that the claimant did not have any disability.”

On August 15, 2001, a Travis County grand jury indicted O’Laughlin on workers’ compensation fraud-related charges. Assistant District Attorney Donna Crosby handled the prosecution.

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