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Successful Defense of Workers' Comp Case Centered Around a Marijuana Gummy Bear.

In a case centered around a marijuana gummy bear, we used a violation of law defense to successfully defend a national can manufacturer in the litigation of a reinstatement petition. The claimant sustained an uncontested crush injury to his foot, which required amputation of one of his toes. The claimant returned to work to his pre-injury job and, sometime later, tested positive for marijuana during a routine employee drug screen. The claimant was discharged for cause thereafter. The claimant filed a reinstatement petition, alleging his total disability arising from his crush injury returned—his treating doctor opined that his work-related condition worsened immediately after his discharge, such that the claimant could no longer perform his duties. The defense cross-examined the claimant’s medical expert, exposing the fact that his diagnoses were unrelated to the accepted work injury. Fact witnesses supported the discharge-for-cause based on the drug violation. The claimant alleged that the marijuana gummy bear was given to him by a friend and that he used it to medicate due to his work injury. He further alleged that he was unaware of the company drug policy. The defense submitted evidence proving the claimant was made aware of the drug policy as contained in the company handbook. The Workers’ Compensation Judge ruled that the claimant was discharged for cause and that the expert testimony of the claimant’s medical witness was not credible. The reinstatement petition was denied.         

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