Missouri: No Psych Claim For Worker Investigated For Threats Of Mayhem

An employer investigated a hospital technician for alleged threats that she would like to bring a gun and shoot everyone at work and was mad enough at times to do it herself.   Davis v Mo Baptist Medical Center, 2014 Mo WCLR Lexis 42 (March 28, 2014) (lexis.com), 2014 Mo WCLR Lexis 42 (March 28, 2014) (Lexis Advance) .  The Commission affirmed a denial of benefits related to the Feb. 2008 incident because she failed to prove stress of a risk assessment was an accident arising from work.

The employer’s emergency room examined claimant and concluded she was not a threat to herself or others and that someone possibly overheard conversations about a mass shooting and jumped to conclusions.  She was referred to an EAP program.  Claimant states she was upset, humiliated, experienced stroke-like symptoms and never returned to work.  She blamed the encounter for her depression, insomnia, alopecia and weight gain.  The Commission affirmed and found that claimant established that she had undergone “indignities” of being confined in an emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation but that the exam occurred in the context of a patient-physician encounter and not from a risk associated with her employment.  The Commission concluded that the claimant was credible when she denied ever making any threatening statements. 

“Although these allegedly injurious acts occurred on employer's premises and were performed by employer's agents, we are of the opinion that these circumstances are not dispositive of the issue whether said acts constitute hazards or risks related to the employment. This is because employer's allegedly injurious conduct took place in the context of a medical evaluation of a possible medical condition not shown to be work-related. The relationship of the parties at the time of alleged injury was one of patient and healthcare provider, not employee and employer.”

Claimant failed to prove an injury arising out of her employment or the absence of good faith required in a stress claim. The administrative law judge concluded that claimant’s expert was less credible that she had a major depressive and anxiety disorder from a “strip search and imprisonment” during her  risk assessment or that “dark forces” were at work.

Source: Martin Klug, Huck, Howe & Tobin. Read Martin Klug’s Mo. Workers’ Comp Alerts.

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