You’ve probably seen a few questionable workers’ compensation claims, but this guy’s story was absurd enough to make national news.
We’re referring to the story of Gary Schwirse, a longshoreman for the Oregon-based Marine Terminals Corp. with a talent for drinking copious amounts of alcohol on the job.
According to court documents, here’s what Mr. Schwirse was drinking on the day he got injured:
- two beers before the start of his workday
- eight additional beers by lunch, and
- more than a half-pink of whiskey by the end of his shift at 4 p.m.
As for the injury itself, Schwirse was urinating off one of his employer’s docks when he lost his footing, fell over a railing and landed on some concrete six feet below the dock. Schwirse suffered a severe scalp laceration and, with a blood-alcohol level of .25, there’s a good chance he had a decent hangover, as well.
Tripped on a bright orange cone
Following his injury, Schwirse sought workers’ comp benefits under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. His reasoning: Schwirse said he believed he tripped on a bright orange cone before his fall.
Initially, Schwirse was granted benefits because an administrative law judge ruled that “workplace hazards” had actually played a role in the fall. But that judge later reversed his ruling when Schwirse backed off on his claim about that orange cone.
Reason: Schwirse had offered conflicting info about the orange cone. At his deposition, Schwirse said although he didn’t remember it, two-co-workers told him he tripped over the cone. But at his hearing, Schwirse said he himself remembered falling over the cone.
Schwirse appealed the benefits denial, and eventually the case landed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where the judge wrote “if intoxication was the reason for the fall, then intoxication was also the reason for the injury.”
This article previously appeared on our sister website, HRBenefitsAlert.com.