The Top 10 Bizarre Workers’ Comp Cases for 2009

The Top 10 Bizarre Workers’ Comp Cases for 2009

From the Editors of Larson's Workers' Compensation Law: Here’s our list of the most bizarre or unusual workers’ comp cases in 2009…

1. IL: Workers' Comp Benefits Allowed for Chivalrous Act at Vending Machine - Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Illinois Workers' Comp. Comm'n

An Illinois appellate court affirmed an award of benefits to a 21-year-old who suffered a displaced fracture through the right femoral neck when, in chivalrous action to aid a female coworker, he attempted to dislodge a bag of Frotos® chips that had become stuck in a vending machine on the employer's premises by giving the machine a "shoulder block." 

CIRCUIT CITY STORES, INC., Appellee, v. ILLINOIS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION (Clinton Dwyer, Appellant), 2009 Ill. App. LEXIS 278

Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 27.01.

2. NJ: Coworker's Perfume Spray Causes Aggravation of Worker's COPD - Sexton v. County of Cumberland

A New Jersey appellate disagreed with a decision of the state's Division of Workers' Compensation and held that the alleged aggravation of claimant's pre-existing COPD caused by inhaling perfume sprayed into the air by a co-employee satisfied the arising out of employment criterion of N.J.S.A. § 34:15-7 and was compensable.

DORIS SEXTON, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, v. COUNTY OF CUMBERLAND/CUMBERLAND MANOR, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT, 2009 N.J. Super. LEXIS 5

Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 9.02.

3. WY: Death Benefits Allowed In Spite of Worker's Refusal of Blood Transfusion That May Have Saved Life - Williams v. State ex rel. Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Comp. Div.

The Supreme Court of Wyoming reversed a decision that had denied death benefits to the dependents of a maintenance technician who died from injuries sustained in a work-related automobile accident.  The had family refused to allow a blood transfusion on the grounds that as a Jehovah's Witness, the worker could not receive the blood of another human being.

IN THE MATTER OF THE WORKER'S COMPENSATION CLAIM FOR BENEFITS FOR HOWARD W. WILLIAMS, DECEASED EMPLOYEE OF CAPITOL CITY MAINTENANCE, INC.: SHARON WILLIAMS, Appellant (Petitioner), v. STATE OF WYOMING ex rel. WYOMING WORKERS' SAFETY AND COMPENSATION DIVISION, Appellee (Respondent), 2009 Wyo. LEXIS 57

Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 10.10.

4. MO: Death Benefits Claim Denied for Workers' Comp Fraud Investigator; Fatal Car Accident Did Not Arise Out of the Employment - Anderson v. Veracity Research Co.

A Missouri appellate court affirmed the denial of death benefits to the family of a workers' compensation fraud investigator who died in a car wreck while he was away from home on an assignment.  Alcohol and speeding were the causes, indicated the court. 

TRAVIS ANDERSON, DEC., BY HIS DEPENDENTS, APPELLANT, v. VERACITY RESEARCH CO., RESPONDENT, 2009 Mo. App. LEXIS 1570

Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 25.03.

5. OH: Medically-Induced Paralysis Does Not Qualify as Scheduled Injury - State ex rel. Carter v. Industrial Comm'n.

Medically-induced paralysis to treat the injuries of a nightclub bouncer, who sustained a gunshot wound in the course of his work, and who died without regaining consciousness, was not the sort of "loss of use" that could support a scheduled injury award, held an Ohio appellate court.

State of Ohio ex rel. David C. G. Carter, Relator, v. Industrial Commission of Ohio and D & D Enterprises, Inc., Respondents. State of Ohio ex rel. Davyne Carter, Relator, v. : Industrial Commission of Ohio and D & D Enterprises, Inc., Respondents, 2009 Ohio App. LEXIS 4668

Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 86.04.

6. OH: Worker's Death From Overdose of Prescribed Medication and Cocaine Held Not Compensable - Parker v. Honda of Am. Mfg.

An Ohio appellate court recently held that a worker's death from an overdose of OxyContin and cocaine was not compensable in spite of the fact that the worker became addicted to the prescription medication following a work-related injury and had sought medical assistance in overcoming his addiction.

GAYLEEN PARKER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, v. HONDA OF AMERICA MFG., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES, 2009 Ohio App. LEXIS 5764

Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, §§ 10.01, 34.01, 38.03.

7. IA: Exclusiveness Rule Trumps Iowa 's Dog-Bite Statute - Smith v. Elick

An Iowa appellate court held that the exclusiveness rule trumps a state statute that otherwise imposes strict liability on dog owners for injuries caused by canine bites.

KELLY SMITH, Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. TODD ELICK and NATASHA ELICK, Defendants-Appellees, 2009 Iowa App. LEXIS 24

Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 100.03.

8. OH: Alleged Removal of Part of Electrical Wire for McDonalds® Microwave Oven Was Not Tampering With "Equipment Safety Guard;" Workers' Intentional Tort Claim Fails - Shanklin v. McDonald's USA, LLC

An Ohio court held that the removal of part of the insulation on an electrical cord attached to a microwave oven was not the sort of action that could subject the employer to intentional tort liability when the employee sustained electrical burns after coming into contact with the ungrounded oven.

DEMIA SHANKLIN, Plaintiff-Appellant -vs- MCDONALD'S USA, LLC, et al., Defendants-Appellees, 2009 Ohio App. LEXIS 228

Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 103.04.

9. US: Oil Platform Worker Is “Lent” Employee; Tort Action for Spider Bite Is Barred - Hotard v. Devon Energy Prod. Co. L.P.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a finding that a mechanic who worked on an offshore oil platform, and who sustained a spider bite as he lay in his bunk, was a borrowed employee of the platform company and, accordingly, he could not maintain a tort action against the platform company.  While his paycheck came from another company, whose primary business was supplying offshore workers, the platform company controlled the mechanics work and the work conditions.

ALVIN J HOTARD, Plaintiff - Appellant v. DEVON ENERGY PRODUCTION CO L P, Defendant – Appellee, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 1344. 

Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 67.05.

10. PA: Pre-Trial Incarceration for Solicitation of Murder Is Not "Voluntary" Removal From Workforce - Rogele, Inc. v. Workers' Comp. Appeal Bd. (Mattson)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held that a worker who, while receiving workers' compensation disability benefits, was arrested and held without bail for the alleged solicitation of the murder of his wife, did not, by his actions, voluntarily remove himself from the work force so as to disqualify him from receiving continued benefits.

Rogele, Inc., Petitioner v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Mattson), Respondent, 2009 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 124

Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 84.04.

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