Faking Workers’ Comp Injuries Costs Washington Logger $160K, Detention

A Cowlitz County, Washington, logger who reportedly faked injuries to collect workers’ compensation benefits was ordered to repay the state more than $160,000.

James Joseph Thomasson, 53, has also been ordered to serve 60 days in home detention, the maximum length under state sentencing guidelines.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Allyson Zipp recently sentenced Thomasson after he pleaded guilty to second-degree theft, a felony.

Thomasson admitted stealing workers’ comp benefits from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, which administers the state workers’ comp system, from January 2018 to January 2020. He must repay L&I $163,566.

Thomasson was reportedly struck in the leg by a tree, suffering bruises and abrasions while working as a logger in the fall of 2006. A year later, he reportedly claimed he hurt his back while using a wedge to fell a tree in Shelton.

His medical provider told L&I that Thomasson could not work due to the workplace injuries, making him eligible to receive payments for part of his lost wages. After receiving an anonymous tip, investigators reportedly caught Thomasson in 2019 performing numerous physical activities that were inconsistent with his medically prescribed restrictions. They recorded him walking briskly uphill while talking on a cellphone, found a social media clip of him dancing by quickly moving his hips side-to-side, and saw him repeatedly lift a heavy tool above his head.

In early 2020, L&I investigators showed surveillance videos to his medical provider, which then determined Thomasson was intentionally misrepresenting his physical capabilities and had actually been able to work in March 2016, court papers said.

The provider concluded that Thomasson had “engaged in well-executed intentional underperformance” of his abilities.

At Thomasson’s recent hearing, Judge Zipp granted his request to start home detention up to 90 days after sentencing to be available for fire-season work this summer.

L&I investigated the case, which was prosecuted by the Washington State Office of the Attorney General.

Workers’ Compensation

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