Homeless Woman wins case against Starbucks

The Virginia Workers Compensation Commission ruled this week that our client, a Barista who slipped and fell on wet mats her first week at work, did not refuse to have medically necessary surgery.  While Doug Landau won her original claim, securing significant wage loss and medical benefits, because it had been so long before this injured single mother got her winning decision, she eventually lost her home.  When the doctors recommended she undergo a total knee replacement surgery, the insurance company seized the opportunity to cut off benefits when the client, who had no home, could not schedule the operation because she and her son had nowhere to go to recuperate safely.  The insurance company’s lawyers took the position that the injured worker “must have surgery in order to cure a refusal” of necessary, reasonable and authorized medical care.   As the treating orthopedic surgeon agreed that his patient needed adequate housing so as to avoid post-surgical complications, the Deputy Commissioner found in favor of the disabled worker.  The judge wrote, “we find under the circumstances the claimant’s refusal to undergo surgery at this time is justified.”  The claimant’s benefits were reinstated, retroactively to the date the insurance company filed papers to cut her off.

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