According to a news release issued today by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), the owners of popular East Austin restaurant La Barbecue are being charged with fraud related to a 2016 insurance claim.
The couple, founder Leanne Mueller and manager Allison Klemm, were summoned in Travis County District Court on Sept. 28 for allegedly running a workers’ compensation fraud scheme used to pay more than $350,000 to Medicare and Medicare employees compensation payments led. has gone. ,
According to TDI, the case began in late July 2016 when an unidentified worker working with kitchen appliances at LA Barbecue was fatally injured when he struck a food truck parked at 1906 East Cesar Chavez Street. was. Mueller and Klemm were reportedly made aware of the injuries that same day. During this time, the company had no workers’ compensation insurance (and had not at this point since November 2014). However, the TDI report states that the claim was received by Paychex Insurance four days after the incident in order to receive such coverage.
The TDI Fraud Unit determines through release that the claim did not share the employee’s incident or his injuries with the insurance agent. However, the department claims it requested that the new policy be reversed on July 1, 2016, which the investigation says was three weeks before the employee was injured. TDI reports that Mueller signed an application for coverage and reports that no claims were made, allowing Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America to approve the policy.
The press release said that after the policy went into effect, the restaurant filed a claim with passengers for the injured employee, which was approved and resulted in a payment of more than $350,000 in benefits. According to the TDI announcement, the insurance also took over the lifelong care of the injured employee. The exact injuries were not made public at the time of publication.
A case summary from the 147th Circuit Court describes the act as “securing enforcement by fraud,” which counts as a felony. The summary also lists September 27 as the date of a pretrial hearing.
If found guilty, Mueller and Kleim are expected to receive a TDI statement ordering them to pay damages and double the amount already paid to the injured employee. In the state of Texas, employers are not required to have workers’ compensation insurance, but do so at your own risk because companies face potential employee injury claims if they do not have coverage.
Eater has reached out to Mueller, Clem, TDI and the Travis County Attorney’s Office for further comment.
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