Waitress not entitled to benefits for injuries sustained in barroom brawl
Case name: Crutcher v. New Direction, No. 2013-CA-000154-WC (Ky. Ct. App. 08/02/13, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that a waitress was not entitled to benefits for her injuries sustained in an assault.
What it means: In Kentucky, where a worker is assaulted and injury is inflicted through personal animosity for a reason unrelated to the employer's business, the worker is not entitled to benefits even if she is assaulted while performing her work duties.
Summary: A waitress was waiting on tables in the crowded bar. Two customers were arguing. The waitress claimed that she was grabbed and knocked to the ground by one customer. A security guard broke up the altercation. The waitress finished her shift and sought medical treatment for her injuries. She filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits, alleging injuries to her head, neck, hair, shoulders, arms, back, and knees as a result of the assault. The Kentucky Court of Appeals held that she was not entitled to benefits.
The waitress claimed that she was an innocent victim of an unprovoked attack. She claimed that she did not know the two customers who were arguing. The customer claimed that the waitress intervened on the second customer's behalf and grabbed her arm. The owner of the bar believed that the waitress was acquainted with the second customer.
The court found that there was no direct causal connection between the waitress's employment and her injury. The waitress's version of events was inconsistent with the testimony of other witnesses. The court found it was reasonable for the administrative law judge to infer that the waitress was acquainted with the second customer and intervened in the altercation on her behalf.
The court also rejected the waitress's argument that her work put her in a dangerous position that increased her risk of being involved in a fight with an intoxicated customer.
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October 21, 2013
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