Personal nature of plumber's assault clogs claim for benefits
Case name: Ballard v. Princeton Park Homes, 20 ILWCLB 89 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2012).
Ruling: The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission held that a plumber was not entitled to benefits for injuries sustained when he was assaulted by a coworker.
What it means: In Illinois, a workplace assault may be compensable if the origin of the altercation was work-related.
Summary: A plumber worked in the interior maintenance department of a company. A coworker, who worked as a supervisor and carpenter in the carpentry department, hired the plumber and his brother to complete repair work on a motor vehicle. He paid the plumber and his brother a portion of the agreed-upon price in advance. On the date of the incident at issue, the coworker's van was missing from the parking lot. The coworker accused the plumber and his brother of stealing the van. When the coworker arrived at the work site, he asked the plumber for his money back that he had paid in advance for the repairs. They began to argue, and the coworker struck the plumber in the face. The arbitrator found the plumber's injuries did not arise out of his employment and denied benefits.
The arbitrator noted that the altercation did not stem from the plumber's job duties but were personal in nature. Although the coworker was a supervisor, he never supervised the plumber. The arbitrator concluded that the origin of the quarrel was the repair work, the money paid for the repair work, and the possible theft of the coworker's vehicle. These issues between the parties were not job-related.
Upon review, the commission adopted the decision of the arbitrator.
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August 23, 2012
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