Personal animosity defeats assertion that assault was work-related
Taylor v. Wayne County Bd. of Educ., No. 2009-CA-001392-WC (Ky. Ct. App. 04/16/10, unpublished).
The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the denial of a teacher's request for workers' compensation benefits. She did not meet her burden of proving that the injuries she suffered in an assault arose out of and in the course of her employment.
What it means: The Kentucky Workers' Compensation Act does not authorize compensation for injuries that are "merely contemporaneous or coincident with the employment or collateral to it." Compensation will be awarded only where the employee establishes a direct causal connection between the employment and the injury. An assault precipitated by "lingering personal animosity" between the parties unrelated to the victim's employment does not arise out of and in the course of employment.
Summary: A teacher sustained severe injuries to her head, eyes, neck, and other areas of her body when she was assaulted by one of her students and the student's mother in a department store. The teacher asserted that the attack was in retaliation for breaking up a fight involving the student the previous day. According to the student and mother, however, when the store incident ended, the teacher yelled, "That's the girl that blacked my daughter's eye," referring to an incident that occurred months before the assault between the teacher's daughter and the student. The Court of Appeals upheld an administrative law judge's decision denying benefits, finding that long-standing personal animosity between the parties precipitated the assault, which had no connection to the teacher's performance of her job duties.
The student testified that animosity between the parties began to grow several months before the assault, after the student and teacher's daughter were in a fight. From that point forward, the teacher was hostile to her, she said. The teacher insisted that the fight between the children was a "minor tiff," but also claimed that the student gave her daughter a black eye. The principal placed the girls in separate classes after the fight.
The court rejected the teacher's argument that it was her efforts to separate students during the hallway scuffle that spurred the attack, pointing to evidence that the incident was in fact minor and occurred weeks prior to the off-campus attack.
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June 7, 2010
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