A Louisiana worker received workers’ comp benefits after he suffered a blood clot which, according to his hospital discharge records, likely resulted from a ten hour day sitting on a very narrow pipe. In O’Bannon v. Moriah Technologies, O’Bannon was hired primarily to perform work on cell towers. He was given an independent contractor agreement form after being hired but never returned it. The accident occurred when O’Bannon was assigned to upgrade a “tower [that] had an unusual and complex configuration that required him to sit on a small pipe with his dangling legs wrapped around the pipe to secure him for hours while performing work on six different antennas” in Napoleonville.
Weeks later, O’Bannon went to an urgent care clinic complaining of chest pain and difficulty breathing. O’Bannon had a pulmonary embolism and was hospitalized and later had surgery after fluid built up in his lungs. Moriah’s workers’ comp insurer, Texas Mutual, denied the claim on the grounds that O’Bannon didn’t suffer an injury in the course and scope of his employment, but rather an “ordinary disease of life.” In addition, his employment status was under dispute. The WCJ found that Moriah’s level of control over O’Bannon’s work made him an employee, which was upheld on appeal to the First Circuit. Further, the First Circuit noted that some vascular injuries can be treated as work related when they result from a specific physical trauma.