As I said earlier, the Honolulu Civil Beat published a three-story series on workers compensation. The first one involved a look at the general litigation system and the problems that it can cause. The second one is titled This Woman Lost Ten Years Battling a System Where Insurers Call the Shots. This second one tells the story of one woman and her ten year battle with the insurance company. It tells the story of one injured worker and one doctor who examines workers at the request of insurance companies. It is a lucrative practice for him, and in 2006 he was paid almost a million dollars.
Again, this is Hawaii and not Oregon, but the medical evaluation mill that exists in Oregon mill that exists in Oregon is equally lucrative to a great many doctors. Again, this is a lengthy but worthwhile read to get an idea of what injured workers go through certainly in Hawaii, but also in Oregon.
This Woman Lost 10 Years Battling A System Where Insurers Call The Shots
Hobbled by pain from work injuries, Vanessa Sylva had to overcome medical reports by insurance doctors that challenged her need for surgeries.
Part 2 of an ongoing series about Hawaii’s workers’ compensation system.
Dr. Leonard Cupo had just testified in a workers’ compensation case in a windowless hearing room in downtown Honolulu. Cupo, a gregarious man, stood up and shook hands with the small group of attorneys and officials who attended the hearing.
Then he came to Vanessa Sylva, the injured worker whose case was the subject of his testimony. He’d been paid by a workers’ comp insurance company to examine and write a report about her.
Sylva refused to take his hand.
She turned to others in the room and apologized.
“This man has caused me so much pain that I cannot shake his hand,” she recalls saying.
This is the story of Cupo and Sylva — how they came to that acrimonious moment a year ago in a clash made possible, even inevitable, by Hawaii’s workers’ comp system.
A CIVIL BEAT INVESTIGATION
BY JOHN HILL