Case name: Stenson v. Pat's of Henderson Seafood, No. 11-1148 (La. Ct. App. 02/01/12).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a server was entitled to benefits for her injury despite a positive drug test for marijuana and prescription Xanax.
it means: In Louisiana, a worker can be found to be intoxicated by a drug for which she has a valid prescription.
A server for a seafood restaurant broke her left wrist when she tripped over a box of potatoes in the preparation area of the restaurant. She was taken to the emergency room and underwent a drug test pursuant to the restaurant's policy. She tested positive for marijuana and Xanax, which was prescribed to treat her preexisting back condition. The restaurant and its insurer paid the emergency room bill but denied all other benefits based on the positive drug test. The server sought benefits. The parties agreed that the accident occurred in the course and scope of her employment. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that the server was entitled to benefits.
The court agreed with the restaurant's contention that the fact that a drug is prescribed to a worker does not prevent it from being considered whether the worker was intoxicated at the time of an accident. A worker can be found to be intoxicated by a drug for which she had a valid prescription. In this case, the server proved that the intoxication was not a contributing cause of the accident. She smoked marijuana four days before the incident, and she reported that she took Xanax the day of the accident. She performed her job on the day of the accident without any complaints from customers or coworkers. Also, the boxes of potatoes were left in an area where workers were required to go in the course of their duties. No one testified that the server appeared intoxicated at the time of the accident.
The server requested penalties and attorney's fees. The court declined to award them, explaining that an employer's reliance on a positive drug screen can support a finding that it reasonably controverted the claim.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
February 27, 2012
Copyright 2012© LRP Publications