Banana Peel Fraud: Man Planted Fruit Before Slipping, Attempts To Sue Fail

A man who sued Washington D.C’s transit agency for $15,000 after he slipped on a banana peel as he exited a Metro station, has been charged with fraud.

Maurice Owens claimed that he injured his hip and leg after he departed an elevator at the Potomac Avenue Metro station and then slipped on the discarded fruit. He was compensated with $15,000, with $4,500 going to cover his chiropractor bills.

However, a tape has now emerged depicting the incident, and the footage to emerge differs from Owen’s version of events.

The clip shows that on August 8, 2013, at around 9 p.m, Owens can be seen entering the empty elevator and then pacing around before looking up at the camera that is situated inside. He repeats his pacing and various glances at least three times.

Then towards the video’s conclusion, just as the elevator doors open, Owens throws something onto the floor behind him, before then dramatically falling to the ground. The video finishes with half of Owens’ body inside the elevator, and the other half on the outside.

Metro Transit Police have now reported that the item Owens threw on the floor “was later identified as a banana peel.” Dan Stessel, Metro’s spokesman, added, “Through our investment in digital camera systems across the system, we are demonstrating our commitment to protecting fare-paying riders and the region’s taxpayers from fraudulent claims.”

After the incident, Owens reported his injuries to the station’s manager, before he was then taken to Howard University Hospital and treated for his various injuries. Two weeks later, Owens filed a claim against Metro.

Stessel has now explained, “What you will see in the camera footage is that the elevator, just prior to Mr. Owens boarding, shows there’s nothing on the floor. He is then seen with what appears to be a banana peel in his hand, looking in the direction of the camera.”

He added, “An object can be seen on the ground, and then when the elevator doors open, he steps on the object, thrusts himself forward and falls out of the elevator.”

Owens has now been arrested, after a warrant was issued that accused him of fraud. He is set to appear in court next Monday. After an original hearing last month a D.C. Superior Court judge ordered Owens to undergo a mental-health screening and evaluation. It’s believed that the Metro receives around 225 claims a month from people looking to sue a station because of injury.

[Image via Jan Schumann/Shutterstock]