A Cowlitz County, Wash., logger who faked injuries to collect workers’ compensation benefits and was caught dancing must pay back $163,566 to the state.
James Joseph Thomasson, who admitted to stealing workers’ compensation benefits for two years, was hit in the leg by a tree and suffered bruises and lacerations while working as a logger in the fall of 2006, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. A year later, he claimed he injured his back while using a wedge to fell a tree. His doctor told L&I that Thomasson was unable to work because of the workplace injuries, making him eligible to receive payments for a portion of his lost wages. In addition, Thomasson regularly submitted official forms stating that he was unable to work due to the injuries.
After receiving an anonymous tip, investigators caught Thomasson in 2019 performing numerous physical activities that did not comply with his medically prescribed restrictions.
“For example, they recorded him walking briskly uphill while talking on a cell phone, found a clip on social media of him dancing by rapidly moving his hips from side to side, and saw him repeatedly lift a heavy tool above his head,” according to L&I . “At times during this same period, it seemed that when he thought he was under surveillance, he would walk slowly and limp, especially at medical appointments.”