Sonic employee injured during robbery denied benefits

February 27, 2013 3:44:04 AM PST
We're digging into why a young man in Humble can't get help for his broken leg. Criminals broke it during a robbery. We heard the reason he can't get health care, but we investigated to find out more.

Michael Latrique is hobbled by a broken leg. He's been on crutches for a month but can't get help, and he's still in pain all the time.

"All day, I am in pain right now," Latrique said.

For two and a half years, Latrique's worked at a Sonic restaurant on FM 1960 in Humble, most recently as an assistant manager on the 4-midnight shift.

He has no health insurance and didn't the night two crooks came to rob the place in mid-January.

"All I heard them say was, 'Get the money, get the money! Let's hurry up!'" Latrique said.

And to keep him from moving to protect a co-worker, the robbers grabbed his leg and pulled it though the door.

"I heard was a pop, and the next thing I know my leg was just swelling," Latrique said.

"How much did it hurt?" we asked.

"Real bad. I was crying," he said.

The robbers got about $200 cash. The co-worker was fine, but Latrique ended up at the hospital.

"He had a fractured femur. He was going to be in a lot of pain and he might need surgery," said his mother, Judith Handy.

He may still but has no idea what he really needs. He can't get in to see the doctor. Sonic opts out of workers comp and adopts its own plan, and that plan won't pay.

"My claim was denied because of a drug screen," Latrique said.

Latrique admits smoking marijuana a few days before the robbery and that's why he failed the company-mandated test a few days after the robbery.

Oberg: You don't deny it happened?
Latrique: No.
Oberg: Were you smoking the night of the robbery?
Latrique: No.
Oberg: Did you smoke with the robbers?
Latrique: No.
Oberg: Had you smoked on your way to work?
Latrique: No.
Oberg: Did you smoke in the ambulance?
Latrique: No.
Oberg: Were you under the influence when the Sonic was robbed?
Latrique: No.
Oberg: Did you do anything at work that night that could've contributed to you being robbed?
Latrique: No.
Oberg: Was it your fault at all?
Latrique: Not at all.
Oberg: But you still don't have insurance?
Latrique: No.

His bosses -- a father and son duo both named Bob Mann -- say it's the insurance company's rules. The insurance administrator says it's Sonic's rules. And the burger chain's corporate PR office says it's out of their hands, but the plan does require a drug test.

Neither the bosses nor the burger chain said anything about how fair it is to deny care to the victim of a robbery.

"Why do you deserve to be covered by insurance?" we asked Latrique.

"So I can get my leg back working and get another job," he said.

Latrique's situation has left his mother feeling pretty helpless.

"I don't know how many mothers are out there, but you know how a mother feels when her child is hurting and you can't do nothing for them," Handy said.

We requested an on-camera interview from both Sonic and the Manns. Neither was willing Sonic sent a statement saying the threat of a lawsuit prevents them from saying much. But bottom line, they say stand by their drug testing policy.