Ervin v. Richland Memorial Hospital, et al., No. 4636 (S.C. Ct. App. 12/08/09).
Ruling: The South Carolina Court of Appeals held that a secretary failed to show her respiratory condition from exposure to perfume fragrance arose out of her employment.
What it means: In South Carolina, to show an injury arose out of employment, a worker must show that the causative danger was peculiar to the work and not "common to the neighborhood."
A hospital secretary claimed exposure to perfume at her work aggravated her preexisting asthma so that she became permanently and totally disabled. Her employer argued her injury was not compensable because there was no causal connection between her employment and her condition. It asserted her exposure to perfume in the workplace was no more than what she experienced in her general environment. The Court of Appeals agreed that her injury was not work-related. The court reasoned that the causative danger, perfume, was exceedingly common and that "[c]ommon sense and day-to-day experience dictates many individuals wear perfume and cologne." In fact, the secretary conceded that she experienced numerous reactions to perfume at church, the grocery store, restaurants and department stores. In South Carolina, an injury is not compensable if it cannot be fairly traced to the employment as a contributing proximate cause and comes from a hazard the worker would have been equally exposed to outside her employment. The court reasoned that the perfume exposure was not peculiar to her workplace and therefore did not arise out of her employment.
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February 11, 2010
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