Defamation suit filed against KY workers comp fund

Appalachian News Express

“There are a lot of injured people out there who are getting a raw deal,” Prestonsburg attorney Tom Moak said about a suit he filed in Pike County against the Kentucky Workers Compensation Fund (KESA) and its private investigator.

Moak, representing Beaver resident Michael Adams, is suing Shepherdville-based KESA and Tri-State Investigations LLC., claiming that the companies wrongly accused Adams of trying to fake a work-related injury to get compensation.

According to the suit, Adams was injured after he fell down a hill while carrying rolls of wire to install a chain link fence for Ray’s Fence Company, based in Pikeville.

After he reviewed the workers’ compensation claim, Administrative Law Judge Grant Roark awarded Adams, who never returned to work, income and medical benefits.

Tri-State’s investigator, W. Johnson, conducted a surveillance of men working at the Green Meadow Country Club in Pikeville and recorded a video tape, falsely reporting that Adams was working, when, in fact, Moak argues, he was misidentified by the investigator.

Johnson’s report was forwarded to KESA, covering workers’ compensation claims for Ray’s Fence, and the organization filed a motion to reopen the claim, charging that Adams was guilty of fraud.

Moak claims that KESA made no effort to properly identify the person on the video tape before they contacted the Office of Workers’ Claims and told officials there that Adams faked his injury.

KESA told the Office of Workers’ Claims and Dr. Timothy Kriss that Adams was videotaped bending, shoveling, moving large objects, getting in and out of a vehicle and tossing or throwing objects without any visible disabilities. Kriss issued an opinion stating that Adams “grossly misrepresented his activities and his disability,” Moak claims.

Adams was accused of trying to defraud his employer and of committing perjury. His medical benefits were cut off.

Moak also alleges that KESA threatened Adams’ treating physician, Dr. Alan Hyden, to keep him from continuing to treat Adams, who has since paid his own medical expenses.

The “false and misleading information” relayed about Adams caused him “shame and humiliation” within his community, and with the Office of Worker’s Claims, Hyden and his office staff, and the attorneys and staff of the Eric C. Conn Law Office, who worked with Adams to get workers’ compensation.

The suit includes an affidavit signed by Teaberry resident Franklin Mitchell, the owner of Franklin Mitchell Construction Company, who identified the man believed to be Adams as Mickey Newsome, one of his employees. He said he knew Adams, and that Adams never worked for him or his company, as it was alleged by Johnson.

Referring to the misidentification as “outrageous conduct,” Moak asks Circuit Judge Steve Combs to enforce Adams’ compensation award and medical benefits.

He’s also seeking compensatory and punitive damages for libel, slander, the “intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, intentional interference with a contractual relationship and intentional interference with a doctor-patient relationship in order to cause Adams’ doctor to change the way he was treating Adams.

Moak also requests a public apology from the companies.

Attempts to reach KASA and Tri-State Investigations were unsuccessful Friday.

Harold Ray, who owned Ray’s Fence when Adams contracted work with them, would not comment.