Gwartney v. Karma Night Club, 17 ILWCLB 142 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2009).
Ruling: The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission denied benefits to an employee of a nightclub who was injured while fighting with a customer.
What it means:
A nightclub bouncer's action of chasing a patron out of the parking lot and then calling him back to fight falls outside the scope of his employment. Therefore, any injuries sustained by the bouncer due to the fight are not compensable under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.
Summary: The employee worked for the nightclub as a bouncer, although it was unclear if he was working on the night in question. He testified that while at work, he followed several patrons to the door, where an altercation broke out. He chased the patrons to the parking lot and into a street. The bouncer began yelling at one of the patrons to come back and "fight like a man." The patron returned to the parking lot, and another altercation ensued between the bouncer and the patron. Evidence was introduced that both the bouncer and the patron had dated the same woman and that the fight was about her. The bouncer's work duties did not include chasing patrons into the parking lot and challenging them to fights. Bouncers were told to avoid altercations. The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission determined the bouncer acted outside his scope of employment by chasing the patron out of the parking lot and calling him back to fight.
The commission also pointed out that the bouncer had been convicted of several felonies, including armed violence, and spent nine years in prison. The arbitrator considered these convictions in finding the bouncer was not a credible witness. Upon review, the Commission affirmed and adopted the decision of the arbitrator.
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October 22, 2009
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