November 9, 2009

Disabled Carpenter Climbs a Mountain

Christopher Robin Briejer used to be a carpenter. He suffered a back injury in 2000 and was disabled from work. Except that he apparently kept on working. In 2003 he hurt his back again while working without comp coverage. He claimed the new injury was a recurrence of the 2000 incident. The claim was re-opened and he began collecting benefits. Between January 2004 and April 2008, Briejer received 121 state checks totaling $258,995 for time-loss compensation, $75,295 in medical services and $31,651 in vocational retraining - for a total of nearly $366,000.

The state of Washington recently indicted Breijer for comp fraud, alleging that the 2003 injury was not a recurrence, but a new injury. Someone dropped a dime on him.

Breijer states: "I have a permanent back injury with permanent damage to my spine."

For a man collecting disability payments, Breijer maintains a very active life style. He likes to "rock crawl" and last year he climbed Mount Ranier.

"It doesn't take a back to climb a mountain, it takes legs," he said. [Think about that for a moment.] "I'm an active injured person. Even though I'm injured, I take care of my body. My doctors are 100 percent in favor of me hiking." Hmm. I wonder if his doctors are 100 percent in favor of him working...

A Famous Bear of LIttle Brain
Breijer appears to have been named after Christopher Robin, the boy who appears in the Winnie the Pooh books written by A.A. Milne. (I refer to the books, not to an abomination of the same name from the Disney folks.) It seems that Breijer took to heart one of the Pooh bear's famous quotes: "A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise." No bear belly for Breijer!

I'm guessing that Breijer might resent being named after a character in a children's book. Well, the original Christopher Robin resented it, too. Christopher Robin was based upon Milne's own son, Christopher Robin Milne, who in later life became unhappy with the use of his name. "It seemed to me almost that my father had got where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders, that he had filched from me my good name and left me nothing but empty fame". Children can be so harsh!

Well, as Pooh himself famously said: "People who don't Think probably don't have Brains; rather, they have grey fluff that's blown into their heads by mistake." And again: "If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear."

I wonder if the prodigiously active Christopher Robin Breijer might have just gotten a little confused, Pooh-bear style, between right and wrong, between being truly disabled and being able to work. Such confusion is rampant in these morally compromised times. It's a bit like distinguishing one hand from another, which Pooh himself found to be quite difficult:

Pooh looked at his two paws. He knew that one of them was the right, and he knew that when you had decided which one of them was the right, then the other was the left, but he never could remember how to begin.

When it comes to confronting moral hazards, it's really important to remember how to begin.

| 2 Comments

2 Comments

Great story....amazing how our injured workers can justify things. You comment, "I wonder if his doctors who ok'd him to mountain climb also signed the unable to return to work note? Some 'retraining' is in order I would say!!!

Maybe he should take a job as a mountain guide for the park service.

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This page contains a single entry by Jon Coppelman published on November 9, 2009 11:46 AM.

Compensable Shampoo? was the previous entry in this blog.

A Matter of Time: Independent Contractors Morph into Employees is the next entry in this blog.

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