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Off-duty clerk shot outside of store due comp benefits

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A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court panel has ruled that a convenience store clerk is eligible for workers compensation after being shot several times while sitting in his supervisor’s parked car outside of the store after the pair had just closed up shop. 

Shah Mahar-Ullah was shot multiple times in the chest, leg and hand on May 28, 2008, shortly after closing B.C. Food Market in Philadelphia and was left permanently disabled, according to the decision filed Tuesday.

According to court documents, the store had been hit by shoplifters several times. Four days before he was shot, Mr. Mahar-Ullah stopped a regular customer from shoplifting and called the police. After she had been taken to the police station, several of her relatives came to the store, kicked the door,” and told Mr. Mahar-Ullah that they “would watch how he went home on the bus after the store closed,” court documents state.

After the threat, the clerk had been getting rides home with his supervisor out of fear, records state.

Mr. Mahar-Ullah later filed claim petitions against his employer, which was uninsured, and the Uninsured Employer Guaranty Fund, which provides comp for workers whose employer do not provide coverage. He alleged that he was totally disabled as a result of a work-related injury. The owner of the store responded that the clerk was not in the course and scope of his employment when he was injured, documents state.

Mr. Mahar-Ullah testified in 2010 that he thought the shooting, where assailants were never found, was in retaliation for having nabbed the shoplifter. 

In 2011, a workers compensation judge in Philadelphia sided with Mr. Mahar-Ullah, finding that “the incident occurred in retaliation for the shoplifting arrest,” documents state. In 2015, the Philadelphia Workers Compensation Appeals Board ordered the injury compensable, stating: “In this case, the WCJ found that the injury occurred right after the claimant closed the store, as claimant was leaving work, and at a location that was a reasonable means of access and egress to employer's store.”

A three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court unanimously affirmed the ruling.