Sure, there’s probably a lot of different Goggle hits that match that search.
I am talking about the Thanksgiving Opossum, the one last month that broke into Cash’s Liquor in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Some readers may have already heard the story of marsupial mischief. The critter broke into a store and knocked down a bottle right after Thanksgiving and was found literally at the scene of the crime, passed out, probably after air guitaring all night to Lynyrd Skynyrd songs.
In a rush to get the story first, some journalists spread fake news that the girl opossum was chugging bourbon. Nothing was further from the truth. The bottle was cognac. There’s no point in slut shaming an opossum that passes out and think she wasn’t drinking the best of the house.
How did they figure this out? According to a witness, the possum wasn’t “acting normal.” This may be a low bar among opossums. I suspect in the national expert witness database there is probably an expert on opossums to define what is normal.
The opossum was returned to a safe place in the Emerald Coast Wild Life Refuge to sober up and fly right and not cause any more shame to her family of dumpster divers.
So what lessons can be drawn here for workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation, like other litigation, is about creating an image and telling the story on most favorable terms that puts a client in the best light.
Take, for example, how the opossum story was reported. Some versions of this show stock photos of a generic opossum, opossums that were cute and cuddly that you turn them into a plush for your baby niece. On the other hand, other photos showed the sad truth of the passed out opposum, life on opossum skid row; the opossum that life had turned to shadows it could have its own film noir biopic.
The Daily Meal runs the picture with the pretty fence climbing possum. One wonders why a story about opossums is in a web site called the “daily meal” but that may be a story for another column which might be best answered by a different Google search of “Beer, Possum, and Louisiana.”
Sometimes new clients show up more like the opossum on the floor than the happy one walking on sunshine. Zealous representation sometimes may call for a little spin and re-packaging. Let's just say some public defenders know how to rent suits.
Nothing makes a comp claim look like a passed out opossum than someone who cannot tell the truth, changes stories all the time, changes medical histories all the time, and changes body parts all the time. Employers have a similar need to protect their brand. Pictures of opossum passed out might be a little funny, but are not quite so funny when it is an exhibit of a litigant from a Facebook account. Don't be the opossum that goes viral now becomes an example.
No matter how many breath mints, sometimes the story is still going to stink.