PDA

View Full Version : Man Claims He Was Blinded 4 Times -- In Same Eye



SnakebyteXX
11-18-2004, 08:03 AM
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- In 1985, Brian Calen claimed he was blinded in the right eye in a cruise ship accident. Seven years later, he said a ship's telescope blinded him again. Then, he said, he was blinded on two more trips -- by a champagne bottle and a flying disc.

All in the same eye.

Calen's unlucky streak -- which allowed him to collect more than $1 million in travelers' insurance money -- finally caught up with him Wednesday, when he was charged with insurance fraud and grand larceny.

"How does a guy get blinded again and again?" District Attorney Jeanine Pirro asked.

Calen pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Westchester County Court and was freed on $10,000 bail. His lawyer, Peter Goodrich, said the charges pertain only to the 2002 claim and "it's our opinion that they are absolutely wrong on that."

He said Calen disclosed a prior injury during the claims process and "it's up to the insurance company to determine the validity of the claim."

If convicted, Calen could be sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.

Pirro spokeswoman Anne Marie Corbalis said Calen, 48, took out insurance policies that covered losses during travel but did not require a medical examination. The policies were sometimes triggered just by charging the trip on a credit card, she said.

In 1992, Calen collected $75,000 after claiming the filter on a cruise ship telescope fell off, resulting in solar burn.

Five years later, he collected $1 million after claiming he was blinded by an exploding champagne bottle on another cruise. Pirro said Calen had deliberately broken a bottle and injured himself with the shards.

In 2002, Calen filed a claim for $500,000, alleging he was blinded by a flying disc on a riverboat cruise with a Civil War theme. Pirro said an alert insurance investigator discovered his prior claims and notified authorities.

Corbalis said prosecutors have not determined if Calen tried to file an insurance claim after the 1985 accident. Medical records showed that he suffered retinal damage, but the cause was unknown.