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Firing of adjuster who alleged her own injury upheld by appeals court


A claims adjuster who allegedly injured her hand at work was not wrongfully terminated by her employer under Tennessee common law, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

In November 2011, after working as a claims adjuster at Argos Risk Management Services L.L.C. for almost one year, Teresa Banks said she was injured when an overhead filing cabinet door fell on her hand, court records show.

As was typical for Argos workers compensation claimants, the company investigated Ms. Banks’ claim. Argos found that no one else saw the injury occur and that, after the accident, Ms. Banks told her supervisors she was OK but asked how to file a workers comp form anyway, according to records.

Records show that when an Argos investigator attempted to recreate the accident, she was unable to do so. In addition, upon running a report on Ms. Banks’ social security number, Argos learned that Ms. Banks had filed at least eight workers comp or general liability claims against previous employers and lied about her work experience when applying for the claims adjuster position.

Argos fired Ms. Banks in March 2012 as a result of inadequate work experience and dishonesty, prompting Ms. Banks to file a wrongful termination claim under Tennessee common law, according to records.

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee granted Argos’ motion for summary judgment in August 2013, leading Ms. Banks to appeal, records show.

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati unanimously affirmed the district court’s ruling.

“Argos had many legitimate reasons for firing (Ms. Banks) separate and apart from the filing of her workers’ compensation claim,” the decision states. “When she applied to work at Argos, she repeatedly misled her interviewers. … The lies indicated that she did not have the requisite employment experience to serve as a claims adjustor.”