Claims arising from coworker scuffle not barred as exclusive remedy
Case name: Fanders v. Riverside Resort & Casino, Inc., No. 51225 (Nev. 12/30/10).
The Nevada Supreme Court held that a former worker at a hotel could pursue assault, battery, and wrongful imprisonment claims against coworkers. The court also sent the case back to determine whether her injuries arose out of and in the course of her employment.
What it means: In Nevada, when a worker states a viable intentional tort claim against a coworker, the claim is not barred under the workers' compensation law's exclusivity provision.
Summary: A guest room attendant for a hotel was confronted with a coworker's accusation that she used foul language directed at the coworker. The attendant believed the hotel was fabricating a reason to terminate her, so she became angry and quit her job. She went to sign termination papers when she was approached by security guards, who told her they would escort her off the premises. The guards had been instructed to "86" her from the property. The guards led her to an office where they tried to take her photograph. The attendant climbed under a table to avoid having it taken. The attendant said that one of the guards grabbed her by her hair, pulled her out from under the table, and called her a derogatory name. The attendant sued the hotel and the security guards. The Nevada Supreme Court held that she could pursue assault, battery, and wrongful imprisonment claims against the security guards.
The hotel argued that the attendant's injuries arose out of and in the course of her employment, so the workers' compensation law provided her with an exclusive remedy. When an injury occurs in the course of conducting a termination, workers' compensation may apply to injuries sustained after the employment relationship is terminated. Here, the evidence did not clearly show whether the attendant's employment relationship was severed when she was injured. The court sent the case back to determine whether her injuries arose out of and in the course of her employment.
The attendant's claims were based on intentional conduct, rather than an accident. The court said that even if the lower court decided that her injuries arose out of and in the course of her employment, her claims against the security guards could continue.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
February 14, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications