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Court rules injury caused by spider nightmare not compensable

Posted On: Feb. 2, 2018 10:50 AM CST

A Siloam Springs, Arkansas, firefighter who suffered a foot fracture after he was startled by a nightmare that spiders were crawling all over him is not eligible for workers compensation, the Arkansas Court of Appeals in Little Rock, Arkansas, ruled Wednesday.

Shawn Seth Hansen appealed a decision of the Arkansas Workers Compensation Commission, which affirmed and adopted an earlier decision of an administrative law judge that found Hansen had failed to prove he sustained a compensable injury to his left foot, according to court documents.

In 2015, Mr. Hansen was employed by the City of Siloam Springs, where as a firefighter and an emergency medical technician he worked 24-hour shifts. During his shift, he was required to stay on site unless he was performing a work-related function or errand. The firehouse provided him with sleeping accommodations and encouraged him to sleep at night, according to court records.

During a 24-hour shift on Nov. 5, 2015, Mr. Hansen awoke from a bad dream in the middle of the night “in which he believed spiders were crawling on him. In his sleepy stupor, he jumped from his bed and injured his foot, suffering a fracture of his left fifth metatarsal. He ultimately required surgery for his injury,” records state.

In the latest ruling in Shawn Seth Hansen v. City of Siloam Springs and Arkansas Municipal League, Mr. Hansen’s injury was found to be “idiopathic.”

“Because an idiopathic injury is not related to employment, it is generally not compensable unless conditions related to the employment contribute to the risk,” the ruling states.