Facebook Indiscretions Strike Again!

Zackery Clement was injured in 2009, when the refrigerator he was moving fell on top of him. He suffered a back injury and compensable hernia. His employer and their insurance company paid his workers' compensation and medical benefits for nearly two years.

When it was time for his coverage to be re-examined, however, pictures of Clement "drinking and partying" from Facebook and MySpace were uncovered, and admitted as evidence against him, despite claims of being in excruciating pain. Thus, his petition for additional coverage was declined.

The Court of Appeals in Arkansas affirmed the lower court's decision, stating that the photo's admission into evidence was not an abuse of discretion, and based on the facts in the record, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) was not out of line to determine that Mr. Clement was no longer entitled to medical benefits.

The court's opinion details a somewhat unresolved medical condition, which makes it seem as though Clement might have had some residual medical issues, but as the court states, it is within the ALJ's discretion to draw conclusions based on the facts presented. Here, Clement had some 4 or 5 CT scans which showed no physiological abnormalities. Additionally, evidentiary rules are incredibly relaxed when it comes to administrative law bodies. Thus, the admission of the Facebook and MySpace photos are not surprising.

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