2015 NWCDC

Comp’s Most Bizarre Cases

One expert in workers’ comp law recounts some of the most interesting cases of the year.
By: | November 13, 2015

Though workers’ compensation law “can be dry at times,” there is no shortage of interesting cases that come across the desk of Thomas Robinson, J.D., co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law.

“We’re talking about some really funny circumstances,” he said during a presentation at the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo in Las Vegas on November 12.

In one case from this year, a nursing home decided to conduct an active shooter drill, without advising residents and employees. It hired a local sheriff to play the shooter.

In one case from this year, a nursing home decided to conduct an active shooter drill, without advising residents and employees. It hired a local sheriff to play the shooter.

“This particular sheriff thought he was meant for the stage,” Robinson said.

The sheriff burst into the building, gun drawn, and threatened to kill an employee unless she did exactly what he said. The employee filed a civil suit against the employer for the emotional trauma caused by the drill.

“There are certain risks you have to think about it when you go to work,” Robinson said.

“The court determined that, as a nursing home employee, having a gun held to your head is not one of them.”

In another case, a Spanish-speaking employee of Butterball Corp. strained his shoulder while picking up a frozen 80-pound turkey.

He was sent to a major medical center where he was catheterized, because the doctors mistook his gesturing to his shoulder to mean chest pain, and feared a heart attack.

The misunderstanding resulted in hours of unnecessary testing and a $20,000 medical bill, for which the employer was held responsible.

Ultimately, determination of compensability in Robinson’s bizarre cases depends on specific state laws.

Some require a strong causal relationship between the workplace or nature of work and the injury. Others give more leeway to the worker.

In any event, as Robinson attests, workers’ compensation is actually anything but dull or dry.

Katie Dwyer is a freelance editor and writer based out of Philadelphia. She can be reached at [email protected]

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