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Workers comp is exclusive remedy for widow of worker killed on the job: Court


The widow of an Illinois restaurant worker who was murdered by a co-worker cannot sue her husband’s employer for negligence because of exclusive remedy provisions for Illinois’ workers compensation law, a state appellate court says.

Jose Rodriguez worked for Frankie’s Beef & Pasta in Oak Lawn, Ill., court records show. In 2005, he reportedly got into an argument with Edan Maya after another co-worker, Carlos Flores, was promoted to Mr. Maya’s fry cook position while Mr. Maya spent two months in Mexico for his father’s funeral.

In a statement to police, Mr. Maya’s half-brother said the argument started after Mr. Rodriguez teased Mr. Maya about Mr. Flores being a better fry cook. Mr. Maya returned to Frankie’s the next day after the argument, and shot and killed Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Flores, records show.

Mr. Rodriguez’s wife, Alma Gutierrez Rodriguez, sued Frankie’s Beef, saying that the restaurant negligently hired and retained Mr. Maya.

However, Frankie’s argued that workers comp was the exclusive remedy for Mr. Rodriguez’s wife. Illinois’ Cook County Circuit Court sided with Frankie’s Beef in a September 2011 decision.

The state’s appellate court unanimously upheld that ruling Tuesday. In its opinion, the court said that Illinois workers comp law covers “accidental” injuries, which include injuries that are “unexpected and unforeseeable” on the part of the injured worker or the employer.

Ms. Rodriguez contended that the shooting was not unexpected on the part of Frankie’s Beef, since Mr. Maya was sent home after his argument with Mr. Rodriguez and was set to be fired the next day.

But the court disagreed, saying that Mr. Maya’s boss did not believe that Mr. Maya posed a threat to Frankie’s Beef employees.

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