Pennsylvania: Gun-Wielding Store Manager’s Death While Attempting to Stop Robber Found Compensable

Pennsylvania: Gun-Wielding Store Manager’s Death While Attempting to Stop Robber Found Compensable

A Pennsylvania appellate court, reversing a decision of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, has determined that a convenience store manager did not abandon his employment and was furthering the business affairs of his employer when he was severely injured—the injuries eventually resulting in his death—while attempting to stop a thief from leaving the employer's premises after an attempted robbery of the store. The employer had contended that the employee, who was struck and run over by an automobile being driven by the would-be robber as the latter fled the scene, had violated a positive work rule by possessing a gun on the employer’s premises.  The employer also contended that the employee “had embarked on a vigilante mission” to apprehend the fleeing suspect in an already foiled robbery attempt, that the employee and others had been told “not to be heroes,” and that the actions of the employee removed him from the course and scope of the employment.  The employee’s dependents countered that there had been many robberies in the area, that the employee had actually shot a thief robbing the employer’s store in 2007, and that the employer knew that the employee carried the gun and condoned the action. The appellate court emphasized that the entire incident had been fast-moving, that the employee had been pursuing his employer’s interests—not his own—and that the employee’s pursuit of the robber was not so far removed from his duties as a manager as to constitute a deviation from the employment.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Wetzel v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Parkway Service Station, 2014 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 290 (May 27, 2014) [2014 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 290 (May 27, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, §§ 28.01, 33.01 [28.01, 33.01]

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

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