Man Gored by Bull While at Work Won’t Receive Coverage, Court Rules

After a livestock farm employee is gored by a bull during the job, he received coverage for all related medications. But when the payments stop, the worker files a negligence claim against the insurer. 
By: | July 14, 2021

Francis Graef was working at an Equity Livestock company’s livestock yard in 2012 when one of the bulls in his care became aggressive and gored him.

Graef was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits through Continental Indemnity Company, his employer’s insurance carrier.

For three years following the accident, Continental paid for Graef’s antidepressant medication prescription of duloxetine. However, in 2015, Continental ended these payments. Graef was unable to pay for the antidepressants out of pocket and so never picked up the medication.

Two months later Graef attempted suicide by gunshot. He survived.

In 2017, Graef filed a negligence lawsuit against Continental, claiming the insurance company was “negligent in failing to continue to authorize and pay for” his duloxetine prescription, which resulted in his attempted suicide. He alleged that if he’d had the monetary means to purchase the prescription, the suicide attempt would never have happened.

Graef’s lawsuit sought damages for the suicide attempt, medical expenses and pain and suffering.

In the lower courts, Continental moved for summary judgment of Graef’s claim, seeking dismissal without prejudice. The insurer asserted that Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation law provided exclusive remedy for Graef’s claim.

The circuit court granted Graef’s claim. In appeals court, however, Continental won out. The court reversed the circuit court’s decision and remanded with directions for the court to grant summary judgment to Continental.

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The case moved to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

There, the court determined that Graef clearly sustained his initial injury on the job through no fault of his own, which meant he was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The suit, however, was seeking payout for negligence, which was a different allegation altogether.

Scorecard: The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of Continental Indemnity Company on the grounds that Francis Graef’s case should have been filed as a workers’ compensation claim and not a negligence lawsuit.

Takeaway: When a worker is injured on the job, it is essential that they are taught about how the workers’ compensation system works. More likely than not, it will be their first time encountering it, and they will need guidance. &

Autumn Heisler Demberger is the content strategist at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

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