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

dollar signNoma Bar for Reader’s Digest

Jessica Douglas gave birth to a baby girl named Jamie on April 22, 1998. Soon after, the pair moved in with Douglas’s boyfriend, Scott Moore, whom Douglas had been dating for some time. Though they all lived together in Moore’s Michigan home on and off for several months, Moore wasn’t entirely certain that he was Jamie’s father. In fact, he filed a complaint to determine the child’s paternity. Results from the DNA test came back at the beginning of September and proved that Moore was indeed Jamie’s dad. By then, however, Douglas and little Jamie had moved out. Though Moore no longer supported them financially, he was still, according to Douglas, 
“a father to [Jamie].”

Less than a month after he received the paternity results, Moore was working a job at an apartment complex for his employer, Prestige 
Painting. A gust of wind caused him to lose control of an aluminum 
extension ladder he was carrying, and the ladder touched an overhead power line. Moore was electrocuted. He died shortly after.

On behalf of her daughter, Douglas filed a petition to receive death 
benefits from Prestige Painting. In September 2002, a Workers’ Compensation Board magistrate ruled that Jamie was eligible for 
benefits, since, according to the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act, a child under the age of 16—whether legitimate or illegitimate, whether living with the deceased employee or not—“shall be conclusively presumed to be wholly dependent for support.” The magistrate awarded Douglas 500 weeks of benefits at $252.33 a week.

“The order was clearly in the best interest of the child,” says Douglas’s attorney, Allen Wall.

But within days, Prestige Painting appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appellate Commission (WCAC). Attorney Robert W. Macy called the magistrate’s decision a “legal error” and cited a different statute in the same Compensation Act, which stated that a child had to be “living with” the employee at the time of death to be considered an eligible dependent.

Should Prestige Painting be required to pay death benefits to Scott Moore’s daughter even though the child wasn’t living with him when he died on the job? You be the judge.

Next: The Verdict

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  • Your Comments

    • Burn in hell Scott

      I cannot imagine the destruction that Jamie has to live with knowing her dad was a monster. A man that is violent towards women is NOT A MAN he is an animal. Thank God Jamie has a good mom that provides for her when the system didn’t. Shame on you Prestige Painting, you’ll be going to hell with Scott.

    • Concerned female

      Wow, I just read this some of the people commenting should be ashamed of themselves. Those of you who would leave a poor innocent child out in the cold the way this company did, I pray for you and your souls. Even if the mother was a “whore” as some of you say, the fact remains that Jamies is a fatherless child. She does deserve to be able to live off her father’s worker’s compensation. To me, he did abandon her; to not sign a birth certificate and to not provide any kind of support to the child means he didn’t care. I do personally know the mother and yes she can be a bit kooky at times, but she loves her daughter beyond a shadow of a doubt. She has to work to make sure that her daughter has everything she needs and wants. It would be nice if she had some extra money to help make Jamie’s life better. Those of you who think otherwise should just die immediately because we need less people like you on earth.

      • Adam

        I agree with “Concerned Female”. Scott clearly deserted his child and he has a criminal record for domestic violence as well. Sounds like the best place for him IS in the ground. Fight for your daughter’s right Mom and take care of your daughter.

    • Troy

      If I were Jessica, I would keep Jamie far away from the Moore family. They are most likely filling her head with “great daddy” stories and lying to her.

    • Injustice

      I have no sympathies for this father and I am shocked that Prestige Painting gets off without paying this child. Maybe it’s time for a local news station to pick up this story and make Prestige Painting be accountable. Is Ruth to the rescue still around?

    • Sarah Mack

      This is a crappy law, but I cannot do anything but laugh at the deceased’s family. Restraining orders doesn’t lie, police reports doesn’t lie, and the facts that the deceased didn’t take care of his responsibilities doesn’t lie. The mom or this child are not on trial here. We are taking about “an unmarried, absent father” and the company he worked for paying this child what she deserves. My heart goes out to you Douglas family.

    • Suck it up Auntie!

      Sounds like the Moore family is mentally unstable. With all the PPOs and police reports they cannot save the name of their deceased family member, so they’re going to great lengths to paint a bad picture of the mom. The point is Mr. Moore should of taken care of his child, Prestige Painting should do the right thing and support this child after the death of her father.

    • What is right

      I think some immature people lost sight of the point. Prestige Painting and the fact that they should pay this child. Has anyone thought that the child now a teenager might read these comments? Grow up!

    • The Past Comes Back To Haunt U

      Ask The Mom about Lauren, her other (maybe abandoned and had disability check stolen from by mommy dearest) daughter.

      • The Mom

        The Past Comes Back To Haunt U, classy name. Yes, LAURYN (learn to spell) is my youngest daughter. She was a 31 week preemie and sadly has Cerebal Palsy and has severe seperation anxiety. She was never abandoned either. She lives with her dad because he lives with his parents and they help care of her when he is at work. Lauryn doesn’t do well with change and it would be tough on her to have baby sitters or child care. We are in touch with Lauryn and her dad often and send her letters, cards, pictures, and gifts. They in return send letters, cards, pictures, and gifts for Jamie. The dad gets Lauryn’s SSI. The SSI check was deposited into our checking account. Once we broke up the checks were stiil being deposited into that same account until the dad changed it to his account. The money that was deposited into my account has been paid back to SSI. I was not stealing anything, it was an oversight. Is this the correct place to talk about things you know nothing about? I love my girls very much and would do anything for either of them. Grow up Moore family!

    • The Past Comes Back To Haunt U

      L A U R E N

    • Not The Father

      I’ve noticed that will i am is a total d i c k that if I’m reading between the lines likes it in his b u t t. Hard. And fast. He would love it if you would let him taste your DNA. He’s probably the moms new man and is wallet sniffing For some quick cash to rent some new tail over in Chicago’s Boy’s Town.