Officer’s Parents Sue for Denial Workers Compensation for Their Son Drinking Himself to Death

Personal injury law is one that has a lot of gray areas because causality is not always clear cut. Posing a problem for many cases is the ability to prove causation to someone or something. When it is a clear case that x caused y, things are pretty certain. But, when there is an entire chain from a to z, getting from one point to the next, can be arduous at best, impossible at worst.

In Santa Barbara last week, parents for a deceased police officer filed suit against the City alleging that his job was responsible for his drinking, and, therefore, the cause of his death. Their claim is that they have the right to his worker’s compensation. David Anduri, who was on the Santa Barbara, CA, police force for 13 years died in October of 2014 of liver failure due to alcoholism.

While on the job, he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and had various medications to manage his condition, but used his own self-administration of alcohol to help his symptoms. Insisting that he drank to numb the stress he received while on the job, he filed for workers compensation and started to receive benefits in May of 2013 after being discharged from his duties.

What likely caused his PTSD are the things that he had to witness while on the job. Being a crime scene investigator, he was subjected to seeing some really horrible situations, such as crimes against the elderly, sexual assaults, hangings and just about any horrible crime that you can imagine, according to court documents.

At first, Anduri began to suffer from anxiety, depression, tremors and headaches. Still being a newbie on the force; he was not equipped to witness what he was subjected to and emotionally couldn’t handle it. One of his very first cases involved a call when someone had tried to commit suicide by shooting themselves in the face. When he arrived on the scene, he had to perform CPR to try to save the man’s life because he was still alive.

He first started having anxiety attacks while on the job and filed, at that time, for worker’s compensation benefits. He saw a doctor who first diagnosed his condition. The conclusion of the first professional was that he was completely and utterly incapable of performing his duties and was totally disabled. The City then sent him to another doctor who described the same diagnosis.

After being placed on medical leave, the City then without provocation or evidence, denied his claims, made him pay back all the money accrued for sick and vacation time, and left him as an unpaid employee. Due to the denial, he was unable to afford medical insurance. Not being able to get the services he needed to live with his condition, his parents allege that he began drinking. That led to his liver failure in 2013 and subsequently to his death.

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According to his Los Angeles workers compensation attorneys, not only was David looking to recoup for his worker’s compensation benefits, which were denied, but his parents have also filed a wrongful death suit to compensate for the loss of the son they loved, among with other things such as funeral costs, pain and suffering, retirement benefits, emotional distress and lost wages and earnings.

Since the laws surrounding workers compensation are very specific, it is unlikely that the City will be held liable for the death of their son, but the parents main objective is to ensure that it never happens to anyone else. A battle that is likely similar to David and Goliath, their chances at recouping any of what they lost is nil. Not only fighting against specific laws, fighting the government comes with special and harder hurdles to get past.

It is a case that makes you think seriously about worker’s compensation and preparing people for the tasks that they are going to encounter while on the job. Perhaps a personality test or psychological readiness scale could prevent this from happening in the future. Being thrust into conditions that there is no way someone could prepare for, some would say that the police force has an obligation to forewarn people or to rule out those who aren’t equipped to handle such horrible consequences.