Lifting beer cases, moving chair results in compensable shoulder injury
Food Lion, LLC v. Otey, No. 0882-10-1 (Va. Ct. App. 05/31/11).
Ruling: The Virginia Court of Appeals held that a worker was entitled to benefits for her shoulder injury sustained at work.
What it means: In Virginia, a worker injured while performing duties outside her job description is not barred from receiving benefits if she was performing activities not prohibited by the employer and in furtherance of the employer's interest.
A receiver for a grocery store was assisting a driver move around cases of beer that the store did not order and would not accept. After she moved her 18th case, the receiver felt pain in her left shoulder. She moved two more cases, but the pain increased so she let the driver finish. Five minutes later, she encountered a chair left in a hallway. She went to move the chair and began to feel immense pain in her shoulder. She sought medical treatment which revealed a rotator cuff tear. She sought benefits. The Virginia Court of Appeals held that she was entitled to benefits.
The store asserted that neither the receiver's lifting the cases of beer nor her moving the chair arose out of her employment. The receiver's supervisor said she was not required to help move merchandise during delivery, but the receiver said the duties were a part of her job description. The court said that even if she was not required to move the cases of beer, it did not bar her right to recovery. The receiver was helping a vendor remove items the store would not accept when she first felt pain in her shoulder. Even if the activity was not required by the store, it was not prohibited and she was furthering the store's interest.
The court also said the receiver's lifting the cases of beer was a contributing cause of her injury. A doctor believed both work incidents in combination caused the shoulder injury.
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July 11, 2011
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