Man claims workers' comp claim led to discrimination

By Kyla Asbury | May 21, 2015

WELCH – A Paynesville man is suing XMV Inc. after he claims it discriminated against him by denying him workers' compensation benefits.

ArcelorMittal USA LLC is also named as a defendant in the suit.

Marcus Poore was the section foreman at the XMV-42 mine and on March 3, 2014, he was injured while lifting mine products at the mine, according to a complaint filed in McDowell Circuit Court.

Poore claims Greg Jones, an employee of the defendants, drove him to the emergency room at Welch Community Hospital for treatment of his work-related injury.

Bruce Cole, the superintendent at the mine, instructed Jones that the medical expenses incurred with respect to the treatment of the work-related injury were to be charged to Blue Cross, the company's health insurance plan, rather than processed as a workers' compensation claim, according to the suit.

Poore claims his physician instructed him to rest at home for two weeks before returning to work, however, on March 5, 2014, Cole called him and instructed him to report to work.

When Poore advised Cole that he had been advised not to return for two weeks, Cole told him that he would be denied workers' compensation benefits for the injury and to return to work the following day.

Poore claims for fear of losing his job, he returned on March 6, 2014, and approximately two weeks after his initial visit, he saw his physician again, who advised him to not return to work for an additional two weeks and two seek a second opinion with respect to his injury and treatment thereof from Dr. David Eells, which he saw on March 31, 2014.

Eells also advised Poore not to return to work, but out of fear of losing his job, Poore reported to the "tracking room" at the mine each day and was required to stay in the room for the entire shift, which often exceeded eight hours, however, he was only paid for eight hours.

On March 24, 2014, Poore was informed that because he did not miss more than three days from work, he was not eligible for temporary total disability benefits and on April 17, 2014, he met with Joe Armstrong to discuss the defendants' handling of the work-related injury, according to the suit.

Poore claims Armstrong instructed him not to return to work and on May 27, 2014, he was awarded temporary total disability benefits.

On June 30, Poore's temporary total disability benefits were suspended and on July 29, his claim for temporary total disability benefits was closed, according to the suit.

Following receipt of the denial of his claim for workers' compensation benefits, Poore applied for short-term disability benefits, according to the suit.

Poore claims on Sept. 2, he was awarded temporary total disability benefits and they were awarded retroactive to June 30. He continued to experience pain as a result of the injury and on Nov. 3, he had surgery to repair is ruptured hernia. On Dec. 28, the benefits were suspended.

Poore claims he continues to experience pain and has been unable to return to work.

On March 18, at the request of ArcelorMittal, an independent medical examination was done and the physician advised that Poore's continued pain was a result of the work-related injury.

The defendants have engaged in a pattern and practice of requiring employees who have suffered workplace injuries and are unable to perform their job duties to report to work and sit in the tracking room or similar facilities and failing to pay wages to employees who suffered workplace injuries, according to the suit.

Poore claims the defendants actions are discrimination under the Workers' Compensation Act.

Poore is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by H. Truman Chafin and Letitia Neese Chafin of the H. Truman Chafin Law Firm PLLC; and Thomas R. Goodwin, Susan C. Wittemeier and Richard D. Owen of Goodwin & Goodwin LLP.

McDowell Circuit Court case number: 15-C-55

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