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March 04, 2015

COA holds that Workers Compensation magistrates must consider all information in a criminal indictment before excluding the entire document

The Michigan Court of Appeals in Omian v. Chrysler Group, LLC, No. 310743, held that the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission erred, in part, when it upheld the exclusion of a criminal indictment in its entirety for impeachment purposes in a workers’ compensation claim.

Monasser Omian (“Omian”) suffered a back injury while working for Chrysler on November 9, 2000. Chrysler later moved to have the workers’ compensation benefits halted when Omian was arrested, indicted, and later pled guilty to several federal crimes including aiding and abetting the structuring of financial transactions to evade reporting requirements.
 
The workers compensation magistrate judge excluded Chrysler’s proposed evidence of the grand jury indictment and a 48-page superseding indictment against Omian concluding that they were not relevant, “and that many of the allegations did not apply to Omian, and that the allegations were speculative because they did not all result in convictions.”
 
The COA, however, disagreed in part. It determined that although some sections of the indictments were properly excluded as they were not relevant under the rules of evidence, parts of the indictments were relevant. For example, Omian’s bank records that Chrysler offered to impeach Omian’s claim that his participation in the offenses occurred before he started collecting workers compensation benefits, were relevant.
 
The COA thus determined that before evidence of a crime for impeachment purposes is excluded in workers’ compensation proceedings, the magistrate judge must consider all aspects of the evidence introduced, and may not simply deny admittance to the entire document where aspects of the document are relevant. The court remanded the case to be considered consistent with this holding.
 

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