Wednesday, August 15, 2007

This Time Crime Didn't Pay

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania filed an opinion this week resolving a mind boggling case. A Pennsylvania construction worker who was staying in a hotel while working on a project in New York was murdered late at night in his room by his wife's boyfriend. The wife, who was 8 months pregnant at the time of the murder, subsequently filed a workers' compensation claim seeking death benefits on behalf of both her and her son, who was born a month later.

The murder took place in 1993. The wife testified against her boyfriend in exchange for a reduced sentence, with the result that the boyfriend was convicted of first degree murder and other charges in 1995. This claim for workers' comp benefits was not finally resolved by the courts until this year.

Citing the "personal animus" exclusion on employer liability in Pennsylvania workers' compensation law and accepting the argument that the decedent was not in the course of employment at the time he was murdered, the court upheld the state's Workers' Compensation Appeals Board's denial of the claim.

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