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November 27th, 2013

Video Proves Fraud in Banana Peel Slip-and-Fall Claim against Metro

As reported by the Washington Post, justice was sevred this week in a case involving the D.C. Metro Transit Agency and a Metro rider who had fraudulently sued the agency in a slip and fall case for $15,000 — in part to cover $4,500 in alleged chiropractor bills.   The rider claimed he slipped and fell on a stray banana peel when he got off the elevator at the Potomac Avenue Metro station, but his con was caught on a security camera, and now he faces criminal charges of fraud.

In the 90-second video, as Maurice Owens enters the elevator, there is nothing on the floor.  Then, upon guiltily noticing the camera, he uses his body to block its view as he rummages in his pocket for a banana peel to stealthily drop on the floor in front the elevator doors.  Then, in a grand dramatic gesture reminiscent of a Chevy Chase pratfall, Owens pretends to slip on his peel prop.  He reported his injuries to the station manager and was taken to Howard University Hospital for treatment.

After reviewing the video, the transit agency clearly knew this was a fraudulent claim and decided to take action.  This week, Metro presented its case to the U.S. attorneys office in the district and Owens was accused of fraud and later arrested.

The agency should be praised for taking action against Owens because too often the truth goes uncovered.  This case is one of the roughly 225 claims Metro’s Third Party Claims office receives each month, and while not all claims are fraudulent and made up, there are sure to be several people, like Owens, looking for a quick pay day. On average, these claimants receive $2,500; therefore, it is safe to say that the Metro Transit Agency is paying close to $562,000 per month, and $6.75 million annually in settlements.  While innocent victims should be taken care of, opportunistic frauds should be punished.  D.C. taxpayers and metro riders should not be on the hook for the bill stemming from false claims.

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