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No workers comp benefits for injuries from altercation on shuttle bus: N.Y. court


ALBANY, N.Y.—A New York state employee can't collect workers compensation benefits for injuries she suffered after an alleged assault by a fellow shuttle bus passenger, a New York appellate court ruled Thursday.

Ann M. Belaska worked as a clerk for the New York State Department of Law. In September 2009, she was involved in an altercation with a fellow passenger on a shuttle bus to a satellite parking lot where their cars were parked, court records show.

Ms. Belaska testified that the altercation started after the unidentified passenger became frustrated that Ms. Belaska wasn't exiting the bus fast enough. The two reportedly argued, then had a physical confrontation, after Ms. Belaska told the passenger that she had disabilities that prevented her from moving faster.

Ms. Belaska sought workers comp for injuries to her chest, neck and right shoulder, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, records show. However, the New York Workers' Compensation Board denied her request after finding that the injuries did not arise out of Ms. Belaska's employment.

An appellate division of the New York Supreme Court upheld that decision in a unanimous ruling Thursday. In its opinion, the five-judge panel said that workplace assaults aren't compensable under New York law if they are "motivated by purely personal animosity."

“Notably, claimant testified that she had never before met the person who allegedly assaulted her,” the ruling reads. “Thus, we find that substantial evidence supports the board's determination that the assault on claimant arose from personal hostilities unrelated to her employment.”

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