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Unconfirmed drug test inadmissible in comp case

Drug test

An unconfirmed drug test following a workplace accident is inadmissible, the Supreme Court of Louisiana held Tuesday.

In Parson v. Truck Parts & Equipment Inc., the New Orleans-based court affirmed an Office of Workers Compensation judge’s decision to grant an injured worker’s motion to exclude his positive drug test from the case.

Jerome Parson was injured while working for West Monroe, Louisiana-based Truck Parts on Nov. 26, 2016. He took a drug test the next day, which came back positive. However, no confirmation testing was performed.

Mr. Parson filed a workers compensation claim in August 2017, but his employer denied the claim on the basis that he was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Mr. Parson filed a motion to exclude the test findings, arguing that an unconfirmed drug test was inadmissible for any purpose. The workers compensation judge granted the motion, stating that the “unverified” drug test could not be used by the company to meet its burden of proving intoxication or fraud.

A state appellate court reversed the ruling, holding that Louisiana statutes do not provide for the exclusion of unconfirmed drug screens from evidence in fraud claims, and found that the workers comp judge abused her discretion.

The Supreme Court of Louisiana reversed the appellate court finding and affirmed the ruling of the workers comp judge. The court said that given the “gravity of denying compensation benefits to an injured worker, the evidence used to prove disqualification or forfeiture of those benefits must be deemed competent.”

The court held that it would be illogical to prohibit the unconfirmed test to deny benefits, yet allow the same unconfirmed test to be used as proof of fraud to deny workers comp under a fraud statute, and reversed the ruling.


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