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Workers’ comp denials lead to RICO case

by on
in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has given the go-ahead to a Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit brought by six truckers against their employer. Traditionally, prosecutors use RICO to combat organized crime.

But the truckers allege their employer, Cassens Transport Co., conspired with its claims adjuster and doctors to illegally deny them workers’ compensation benefits. Cassens self-insures its workers’ comp coverage.

Cassens attempted to have the case dismissed. The district court agreed, and the truckers appealed.

That’s when the 6th Circuit dismissed Cassens’ dual defense that RICO did not apply to them and that applying RICO would be illegal under Michigan’s workers’ compensation law. The case will now go to trial to determine whether Cassens’ close cooperation with adjusters and doctors constituted a criminal conspiracy to deprive the truckers of their workers’ compensation benefits.

This decision could have far-reaching consequences. Employers that collaborate with adjusters and doctors could find themselves charged with crimes. Like any employer, you want to control costs—but you can’t attempt to influence medical opinions in workers’ comp cases.

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