Adam Walser of ABC7 News Denver reported last month that Brad Culpepper, former defensive tackle in the NFL, has been accused of workers compensation fraud after appearing on the popular reality show, “Survivor” with his wife.
Culpepper’s career shifted from football player, to personal injury attorney, to reality TV competitor in 2013.
What sparked the accusations? According to ABC7 News Denver, “In 2010, Culpepper filed a workers comp claim in California, where there was no statute of limitations and any player who had ever played a game in the state was eligible to file.” After Culpepper’s claim was filed, California legislators have since changed the law to permit players of teams based in California to file claims.
The NFL Players Association advised former players to file claims, and the NFL and their insurers have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to Christopher Fusco, an attorney who happens to represent insurance companies while writing a blog featuring legal issues in sports, says “I think that he’s a person they’d like to make an example out of.”
Insurers for the NFL have filed a lawsuit, noting that Culpepper was declared 89% disabled in 2010 and settled his claim for $175,000, a mere 2 years before earning a black belt in mixed martial arts in 2012 and 3 years before appearing on “Survivor” with his wife, Monica in 2013. The suit also highlights that Culpepper claimed he lost quality of life. Culpepper told doctors that “pain interfered with his daily activities, concentration and thinking a lot, or most of the time.”
“He said he can’t do recreational activities,” states Fusco. “He’s limited in what he can do, he has pains every day of the year. And now he’s living on a desert island and he’s swimming and killing fish with his hands and eating bamboo, so that’s going to upset the insurer.”
Culpepper’s attorney, Scott Shutzman, is planning on asking the court to throw out the case, as his client was legitimately injured and he should have been awarded compensation. “There were injuries that were confirmed by no less than 14 or 15 MRI’s, various x-rays, legions of doctors,” states Shutzman. His attorney feels Culpepper had answered all questions honestly.
Shutzman also argues that, “there’s nothing that I’ve seen that says an 89 percent disability rating says you can’t be on a TV show, or do an MMA workout.”
Also worth mentioning, according to ABC7 News Denver, is that “Culpepper was the lead plaintiff in the recent NFL brain jury lawsuit, which was tentatively settled for $765 million.”