Morris v. Lanta, 26 PAWCLR 26 (Pa. W.C.A.B. 2011).
The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeals Board reversed the workers' compensation judge's finding that the employer's contest was unreasonable.
What it means:
Under the Pennsylvania personal animus exception, an injury suffered as a result of a personal attack by a third party is not covered by workers' compensation.
Summary: The board ruled that the personal animus exception did not block a bus driver's entitlement to benefits. The driver was walking to use a public restroom in a mall when a person he walked by asked, "What are you looking at?" The driver said "Not a f-ing thing" and the person grabbed him by the throat and threw him against a wall. The WCJ granted the driver's claim petition and found an unreasonable contest. The board affirmed the grant of the petition, finding that the personal animus exception did not apply. The driver did not take any steps toward antagonizing or fighting with his attacker. The driver was simply walking from his bus toward a public restroom. Furthermore, the driver and his assailant did not know each other prior to the incident.
The board also reversed the WCJ's finding of an unreasonable contest. The employer's reliance on the personal animus exception would not have been misplaced if the WCJ found that the short verbal exchange between the driver and the assailant was a step toward antagonizing or fighting with his attacker.
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April 25, 2011
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