Comp denied for worker who tested positive for marijuana metabolites
Case name: Hudgens v. Aid Temporary Services, Inc., No. CA12-78 (Ark. Ct. App. 09/12/12).
Ruling: The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that a worker was not entitled to benefits because his injury was substantially occasioned by the use of illegal drugs.
What it means: In Arkansas, a worker's admission that he used illegal drugs that made it harder for him to concentrate will make it difficult for him to rebut the presumption that his injury was substantially occasioned by the use of illegal drugs.
Summary: A worker used a bladed machine to cut plastic. He said that he was instructed that the proper method for using the machine involved placing plastic on the table underneath the blade and using one hand to push a button to engage the blade's engine while simultaneously using his other hand to operate a lever to bring the place down to cut the plastic. The worker said that the two-handed method for operating the machine was a safety feature.
He admitted to operating the machine by pressing the button with one hand, using his elbow to push the lever, and using his other hand to push the plastic under the blade. Three of the worker's fingers were amputated by the blade. A urine specimen collected from the worker on the day of the accident tested positive for marijuana metabolities. The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that he was not entitled to benefits.
The court explained that a compensable injury does not include an injury that was "substantially occasioned by" the use of illegal drugs. The presence of illegal drugs created a rebuttable presumption that the injury was substantially occasioned by the use of illegal drugs. The court found that the worker failed to rebut the presumption.
The worker admitted that he could have removed his hand or released the button to prevent the injury. He also admitted that he occasionally smoked marijuana, which made him less attentive, made it harder for him to concentrate, and made it difficult for him to react quickly.
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November 29, 2012
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