Workers' Compensation

Larson’s Spotlight on Recent Cases: Injured Worker Rebuts Intoxication Presumption

Larson's Spotlight on Intoxication Presumption, Heart Attack, Arising Out of Employment, and Death Benefits. Larson's surveys the latest case developments that you need to know about. Thomas A. Robinson, the staff writer for Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, has compiled the list below.

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LA: Injured Worker Successfully Rebuts Intoxication Presumption

A Louisiana appellate court recently held that a worker, who tested positive for Dihydrocodeine, Hydrocodone, and Oxycodone when he was taken to a hospital following a work-related accident, had nevertheless successfully rebutted the presumption of intoxication contained La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 23:1081(5) where the employer offered no other evidence to indicate intoxication caused the worker to fall from a wet and slippery scaffold and where the worker testified that he had not taken any medication in the days before the accident and his supervisor indicated that just prior to the accident, the worker was alert and obeyed instructions. The judge's conclusion that the worker's alleged intoxication was not a contributing cause of the accident was supported by the record.

See Spence v. Excelsior Endeavors & Development, Inc., 2012-0616 (La.App. 4 Cir. 10/17/12), 2012 La. App. LEXIS 1318.

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 36.03. 

NY: Death of Grocery Store Employee Put in Charge for Super Bowl Sunday Found Compensable

The death of a grocery store employee was causally related to the employment where it was established that the employee's ordinary duties were as a receiver, that he had been appointed acting store manager for Super Bowl Sunday, an historically busy day at the store, and where the employee quarreled with an unruly customer some time prior to his fatal heart attack, said a New York appellate court recently agreed, affirming a decision by the state's Workers' Compensation Board. For additional discussion, see

See In the Matter of the Claim of Roberts v. Waldbaum's, 2012 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 6336 (Sept. 27, 2012).

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 44.04.

MO: Boots and Motorcycle Helmet Supply the "Unusual" Factor Required by Statute Defining "Arising From the Employment"

Distinguishing the facts of the case from those in an earlier 2012 decision by the Supreme Court of Missouri in Johme v. St. John's Mercy Healthcare, 366 S.W.3d 504 (Mo. banc 2012), a lower appellate court in Missouri recently affirmed an award of workers' compensation benefits to an employee who sustained injuries when he lost his footing while descending a staircase at his employer's business premises.  In Johme, the employee's claim was denied after she suffered a hip and pelvis injury while making coffee in the employer's break room on the grounds that under the Missouri statute, § 287.020.3(2) RSMo., Johme's risk source of injury was one to which she was equally exposed in her non-employment life.  In the instant case, the court agreed that the issue was whether the employee was injured because he was at work as opposed to becoming injured merely while he was at work.  The appellate court held that walking down steps while wearing work boots and carrying a work-required motorcycle helmet was not a risk to which he was equally exposed in his non-employment life.  Compensation was, therefore, appropriate.

See Pope v Gateway to the West Harley Davidson, 2012 MO App. Lexis 1335 (Mo. App. 2012), issued October 23.

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, §§ 3.03, 29.01.

IA: Commissioner May Make "Unequal" Apportionment of Death Benefits to Non-resident Dependent

Applying the state's "equitable" apportionment principles found in Iowa Code § 85.43, an Iowa appellate court recently affirmed a trial court's ruling that earlier had affirmed a commissioner's decision apportioning workers' compensation death benefits between the deceased employee's dependents, some of whom lived in Honduras, and others, who resided in Iowa. Indicating that the statute required an "equitable," but not "equal" distribution, the court agreed that the commissioner could appropriately consider the differences in cost of living between Honduras and the United States. It was also appropriate for the commissioner to weigh the benefits already received by the employee's Honduran spouse as beneficiary to a life insurance policy on the deceased employee's life.

See Carter v. Alter Trading Corp., 2012 Iowa App. LEXIS 879 (Oct. 17, 2012).

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 97.07.