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Employee cannot receive disability benefits for injury in off-duty boxing match

Employee cannot receive disability benefits for injury in off-duty boxing match

A New York porter who moonlighted as a featherweight boxer cannot receive workers compensation disability benefits for an arm injury that apparently happened during a boxing match, a New York appellate court ruled.

Edelmiro Martinez worked as a porter for LeFrak City Management, which manages an apartment complex in New York. In July 2004, he fought in a professional featherweight boxing match at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, where he reportedly injured his left bicep, court records show.

An MRI on Aug. 4, 2004, showed that Mr. Martinez tore his bicep, records show. But he returned to his day job as a porter, and reported that he injured his left bicep while lifting garbage bags for LeFrak City on Aug. 18, 2004.

Mr. Martinez sought workers comp benefits from LeFrak City. The New York Workers' Compensation Board found that Mr. Martinez had a 30% loss-of-use rating in his left arm, but it also noted that Mr. Martinez failed to disclose the prior injury to that arm, records show.

The board awarded medical benefits to Mr. Martinez for his work-related bicep injury, but denied him loss-of-use benefits for omitting his previous injury.

In a unanimous decision Thursday, an appellate division of the New York Supreme Court affirmed the workers comp board's ruling. In its opinion, the court said that New York law disqualifies claimants from receiving workers comp benefits when they've knowingly made false statements about their case.

There is "evidence that claimant's physician called claimant prior to the Aug. 18, 2004, accident and told him that his left bicep was torn and required surgery,” the ruling reads. “Under these circumstances, the board's conclusion that claimant misrepresented his status when he failed to thereafter report the prior injury in his medical history is supported in the record and must be affirmed, regardless of the existence of any proof that might support a contrary result.”

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