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 in Reader's Digest Magazine May 2014

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Noma 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.

Noma Bar for Reader’s Digest

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