Officer wins benefits for injuries sustained while confronting shoplifter
Martinez v. Safe Environment Business Solutions, 18 FLWCLB 124 (Fla. JCC, Ft. Lauderdale 2011).
Ruling: A Florida judge of compensation claims awarded indemnity and medical benefits to a security officer who was assaulted by a shoplifter outside a retail store.
What it means: In Florida, a worker's injuries are not the result of an intentional exposure to a risk that was certain to cause injury when the worker previously engaged in the behavior that resulted in the injury without incident.
An undercover loss prevention officer approached a suspected shoplifter at a retail store. He testified that he saw the suspected shoplifter put candy in his pants. The officer attempted to direct or push the individual back into the store, but the individual resisted by trying to pull away and the officer ended up on the ground. Another person approached the officer and kicked him on the side of his face and in his ribs. Also, the suspected shoplifter and the other person sprayed him with pepper spray. The JCC awarded benefits.
The officer testified that he did not know the suspected shoplifter had an accomplice when he initially approached him. Therefore, he did not act with the intention of injuring himself or another.
The JCC also rejected the employer's contention that the alleged injuries were the result of the officer having intentionally exposed himself to a risk that was certain to cause injury. The officer previously engaged in the behavior of approaching suspected shoplifters outside the store and escorting them inside.
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October 24, 2011
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