Workers' Compensation

South Dakota: Fatal Shooting in Employer’s Parking Lot Held Not Compensable

The Supreme Court of South Dakota, affirming a decision by the state’s Department of Labor and Regulation, recently denied a death benefits claim filed by the personal representative of a woman shot and killed by her husband as she sat in her car in the employer’s parking lot during a regularly scheduled morning break one day after she had filed for divorce.  Quoting Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law extensively and acknowledging that the court had earlier applied the positional risk doctrine, but only in cases involving a neutral risk, the court held that the doctrine could not be utilized in the instant case, since the risk of injury here was personal to the deceased employee.  The court discounted the personal representative’s argument that the deceased's employment environment facilitated and contributed to the assault because her employment provided the only time and place that she would assuredly be away from her children—some testimony indicated the husband would never have killed his wife with the children present.  That contention was conclusory and speculative, indicated the court.

Reported by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.

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See Voeller v. HSBC Card Servs., 2013 SD 50, 2013 S.D. LEXIS 78 (July 10, 2013)  [2013 S.D. LEXIS 78 (July 10, 2013)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 8.01 [8.01]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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