Exclusive Remedy

Did Kidnapping Arise Out of Employment?

By: | January 21, 2014

Christina Lumbreras is a Legal Editor for Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected]

Dawson v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. A13A1116 (Ga. Ct. App. 11/12/13).

Ruling: The Georgia Court of Appeals held that a manager’s suit against her employer was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of workers’ compensation.

What it means: In Georgia, an assault by a third party is treated as an accident under workers’ compensation unless the act was directed against the worker for reasons personal to the worker.

Summary: A department manager for a retailer parked in the store parking lot shortly before her early morning shift. She was walking toward the store when she was hit by a vehicle and kidnapped. She was assaulted.

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Two hours later, a deputy located the manager, who had severe injuries. The manager sued the retailer. The retailer sought to dismiss the suit, arguing that the action was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of workers’ compensation. The Georgia Court of Appeals held that the manager’s suit was barred.

The manager conceded that her injuries occurred in the course of her employment but argued that her injuries did not arise out of her employment. Although the manager argued that the attack was personal to her based on her resemblance to the attacker’s girlfriend, the court said the argument was speculation as to the attacker’s motive. The manager and her attacker did not know each other before the incident. Therefore, the court found that she was attacked merely because she was at the location.

Also, although the parking lot was not regarded as a high crime location, the manager was walking from the parking lot to the store at an early morning hour when it was still dark.

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]