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Lowe’s Home Centers, New Hampshire Insurance, and Sedgwick Claims Liable for Worker’s Comp Bad Faith Following At-Work Injury

Doyle LLP has filed lawsuit against Lowe’s Home Centers (“Lowe’s”), New Hampshire Insurance (“New Hampshire”), and Sedgwick Claims (“Sedgwick”) for violations of the Arizona Workers’ Compensation Act, duties of good faith and fair dealing, and wrongful termination from the workplace.

Our client, a loyal and hard-working employee of Lowe’s, was descending a ladder after stocking shelves when he suffered tears to his achilles.  He immediately reported the issue to his supervisor and later filed for workers’ comp benefits as he was unable to continue working.

Lowe’s required our client see a company doctor that provided Vicodin before releasing him back to full work duties though he was unable to walk without severe pain. New Hampshire and Sedgwick responded to the workers’ comp filing by placing an inadequately trained adjuster in charge of claims processing.  This adjuster required our client visit the insurer’s Independent Medical Examiner (IME), who improperly concluded that scar tissue found around the ankle proved the Achilles injury occurred long before the date it was reported.

Our client visited a podiatrist through use of his personal insurance who concluded the tendon tears took place while working at Lowes, and that scar tissue in the ankle is unrelated and normally forms throughout a person’s lifetime. Relying only on the information of its hand-picked physicians, the adjuster emailed our client denying all benefits as “pre-existing.” In addition, she caused a Notice of Claim Status form to be filed with the Industrial Commission of Arizona, which ceased and denied all medical and income benefits.

This denial violates the duty of “good faith and fair dealing” by intentionally and knowingly terminating benefits without a reasonable basis. Pre-existing damages are still covered under workers’  compensation as long as an at-work accident aggravates and/or accelerates a prior condition.  The defendants chose to misinterpret the rules and obligations of the Arizona Worker’s Comp Act to escape providing our client wage compensations and medical benefits. Good faith also requires that the insurer seek out and give adequate consideration to all medical documentation before making its determinations.

To further add insult to injury, Lowe’s retaliated against our client and created a hostile environment in an attempt to force our client to quit. This included Lowe’s forcing him to work outdoors for extended hours despite knowing he would be exposed to allergic reactions outdoors.  After asking multiple times when he would be moved indoors, Lowe’s responded by asking when our client would stop pursuing his workers’ comp claim. After months of no change, he was forced to stop working.

When our client filed for unemployment, Lowe’s denied this by saying he quit the job. The Employment Board later determined that he didn’t quit, he just had a job he couldn’t continue due to the environment created by the company.

Unfortunately, these delays and imposition of severe economic distress and delayed payment of benefits and medical treatment created situations our client is still fighting to recover from. This injured worker has been subjected to significant economic impact, humiliation, worry, distress, and continuing economic and physical damage.

The Employment Practice of Doyle LLP has experience obtaining notworthy recoveries in the ever changing workers’ comp litigation landscape. If you or someone you know is experiencing a threatening situation in the workplace or is fighting to receive compensation benefits, contact Doyle LLP today.