You be the Judge: The Case of the Kid and the Cash

An unmarried, absent father dies at work. Does his company have to pay to support his child?

By Vicki Glembocki
Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine May 2014

dollar signNoma Bar for Reader’s Digest

The Verdict

In 2003, the WCAC reversed the magistrate’s ruling, denying benefits for Jamie. But this legal battle was far from finished. Over the next four years, in appeal after appeal, Wall and Macy argued over those two workers’ comp statutes. They finally agreed to apply the rule stating that the child was not required to be living with the employee to receive benefits. Then the debate focused on which specific points in that statute were applicable here. The final question came down to this: Had Moore “deserted” Jamie? According to the second sentence in the statute, a child is “dependent for support upon a deceased employee” if the child “has been deserted by such deceased employee.” In December 2007, the Court of Appeals gave the last word: “We conclude that decedent Scott Moore did not desert 
his daughter, Jamie Douglas, and, as a result, Jamie was not a conclusive dependent.” Jamie was, therefore, not eligible for benefits. Had Moore deserted Jamie, she would have been eligible. Says Douglas’s attorney, 
“It kind of makes you scratch your head, doesn’t it?”

Was justice served? Does Jamie Douglas deserve benefits? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

  • Your Comments

    • Just-the-facts

      1. The statutes should be clear. One or the other, so that personal judgements is not a factor at all.
      2. It is not job of Prestige Painting to judge the quality of a mother or father- judging whether a parent deserves child support for a legitimate loss falls no where under the spectrum of painting.
      3. A child deserves support for the job related loss of a parent regardless of that parents presence or non-presence in the child life. Loss is loss, period.
      Finally, good luck mom and I wish you the best in the future! I have a “father-less” 11 year old and it’s not easy!

    • Concerned mom of 2

      Is anyone else truly disturbed that the child was awarded “500 weeks” of benefits? That equates to less than 10 years of care for a child that was only a few months old at the time. I would hardly say that was even close to making sure the girl was “being taken care of” by Prestige. Sad story all the way around.

    • Lise

      Of Course Workers Comp Insurance company should pay that child. He was taking care of the child even though they did not live together. Sick and tired of Insurance companies collecting all this income and fighting every step of the way to not pay out thier claims. they should NEVER have been allowed to overrule a JUDGE’s decision for that child

    • jojowa

      what about social security? the dna test should have gotten you a hearing on that.

    • BingJC

      The argument in this discussion is pointless. The ire should be directed toward the elected officials that enacted the laws in question. This is yet another example of elected officials who feel that they do not have the responsibility to do the job that they were elected to do, which is to understand the laws rules and regulations they are voting on before they vote on them. The arrogance of elected officials who declare that a something must be enacted into law before we can understand what is in it is beyond comprehension and apparently it is not limited to members of congress.