Payton v. Rod Cooke Constriction Co., No. 2011-WC-01100-COA (Miss. Ct. App. 02/19/13).
Ruling: The Mississippi Court of Appeals held that a laborer was not entitled to benefits because his intoxication was the proximate cause of his injury.
What it means:
In Mississippi, to deny workers' compensation benefits based on a worker's intoxication, the intoxication must be the proximate cause of the accident and not just a contributing factor.
A general laborer for a subcontractor on a construction site stopped at a convenience store and purchased two 24-ounce beers during his lunch break. He admitted to drinking one beer while eating lunch and claimed that he gave the other beer to a coworker. That afternoon, he sustained an injury when he fell while cleaning a wall that was 12 feet high. The laborer reported the injury to his supervisor, and he went home from work. He said that he drank about three more beers while waiting for his brother to arrive home. When his brother arrived home, he drove the laborer to the hospital. An alcohol test was taken. He was diagnosed with a left tibia fracture. The laborer sought workers' compensation benefits from the contractor. The contractor denied benefits. The Mississippi Court of Appeals held that he was not entitled to benefits.
The laborer argued that he sustained an injury in the course and scope of his employment and the contractor failed to prove he was intoxicated at the time of his fall and that his intoxication was the proximate cause of the accident. The court concluded that the laborer's intoxication was the proximate cause of his injury. The laborer previously denied having consumed any alcohol before the accident. Only when confronted did he admit to purchasing beer shortly before the injury, and the amount he bought was sufficient to result in the blood alcohol level established by a toxicologist's findings.
The toxicologist explained that the laborer's blood alcohol levels at the hospital were inconsistent with the amount of beer he claimed that he drank. The toxicologist found that the laborer was intoxicated at the time of his injury, and that one 24-ounce beer would not have been sufficient to result in his blood alcohol level at the time of the injury.
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June 10, 2013
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