Case name: Noe v. Basile Police Department, et al., No. 12-333 (La. Ct. App. 11/07/12).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a police sergeant was entitled to benefits for his ventricular tachycardia.
What it means: In Louisiana, a worker's heart-related injury is compensable if the physical work stress went beyond what was usual, regular, or customary in relation to the average employee in the occupation. The requirement does not mean that the job duty being performed is outside the worker's job restriction.
Summary: A police sergeant initiated a traffic stop after receiving a tip that one of the vehicle's occupants was carrying narcotics. The suspect attempted to flee, and the sergeant and another officer chased him on foot until they were able to subdue him. After the chase, the sergeant felt "out of breath." He went back to the police station, and an ambulance was called. He was diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia. A cardiac catheterization revealed evidence of a prior heart attack. He sought workers' compensation benefits. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that his ventricular tachycardia was compensable.
The court found that the sergeant was expected to subdue or chase suspects when necessary. The court also found that a foot chase was "extraordinary and unusual in comparison to the stress or exertion experienced by the average employee" employed as a sergeant.
The police department argued that resisting arrest was not extraordinary and unusual. The court pointed out that the department did not show that the physical work stress caused by other types of resisting arrest was similar to or more physically stressful than chasing a suspect on foot.
The court found that the sergeant proved that the predominant and major cause of his ventricular tachycardia was the physical stress of the foot chase. Although the department asserted that the sergeant's prior heart disease caused the ventricular tachycardia, two doctors opined that the stress from the work incident triggered the cardiac event. The court concluded that the sergeant was entitled to reimbursement of his medical expenses for treatment related to the ventricular tachycardia.
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February 18, 2013
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