Austin Restaurant La Barbecue Owners Indicted on Insurance Fraud Charges

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According to a Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) press release on Aug. 23, the owners of popular East Austin restaurant La Barbecue are being charged with fraud related to a 2016 insurance claim.

The couple, founder LeAnn Mueller and manager Allison Clem, were subpoenaed to appear in Travis County court on Sept. 28 for alleged workers’ compensation fraud, which resulted in a payout of more than $350,000 in medical benefits and benefits. to an injured worker.

According to TDI, the case began sometime in late July 2016 after an unnamed employee was seriously injured while working with kitchen appliances when the company was operating as a food truck parked at 1906 East Cesar Chavez Street. Mueller and Clem would have been notified of the injuries that day. At the time, the company had no workers’ compensation coverage; the TDI report states that Clem contacted Paychex Insurance four days after the incident to acquire it.

In the release, the TDI Fraud Unit says that Clem did not disclose the employee’s incident or injuries to the insurance agent and that she has requested that the new policy be applied retroactively to July 1, 2016 – three weeks before the employee is due. injuries. TDI says Mueller subsequently signed an application for coverage without reporting any claims, allowing Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America to approve the policy.

The release goes on to say that, after the policy went into effect, the restaurant filed a claim with Travelers for the injured employee, which was approved, resulting in the payout of more than $350,000 in benefits. According to the TDI release, the insurance company also assumed lifelong care for the injured employee. The exact injuries were not disclosed at the time of publication.

In a statement from their attorney, Clem and Mueller confirm that an employee was injured in 2016 and that they received retroactive insurance to cover it. “It is perfectly legal to obtain a retroactive policy in Texas,” the statement reads. Mueller and Clem “believed at all times that they were acting in good faith when they signed the application provided to them by the insurance agent.” They also said the insurance money went to the employee to pay their medical bills, not the restaurant, Mueller or Clem. “We believe that once a jury hears the facts, La Barbecue, Leanne [sic] Mueller and Allison Clem will be acquitted,” the statement concluded.

A summary of the case from the 147th court states the official crime as “fraudulent execution of documents”, which is considered a misdemeanor. If found guilty, Mueller and Clem could be ordered to pay a refund of up to double the amount travelers already paid to the injured employee, TDI said. In the state of Texas, employers are not required to have workers’ compensation coverage, but do so at your own risk, as a lack of coverage exposes companies to potential lawsuits for employee injuries.

The date for the pre-trial hearing is September 27.

Eater has contacted TDI and the Travis County District Attorney’s Office for further comment.

Update, Wednesday, August 24, 11:08 AM. This article, originally published on Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 2:59 p.m., has been updated to include a statement from Clem and Mueller’s attorney.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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