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Home Depot worker entitled to comp benefits


SAN JOSE, Calif.--A California appeals court ruled Tuesday that a Home Depot employee is entitled to psychiatric injury-related workers compensation benefits.

The 6th District Court of Appeal's decision in Aaron B. Matea vs. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board overturns a California Workers' Compensation Appeals Board finding that Mr. Matea did not prove his psychiatric injury was caused by a "sudden and extraordinary employment condition."

Mr. Matea had worked for Home Depot for less than six months when a shelf full of lumber fell on him in September 2001. He injured his left foot and ankle, and reported he suffered from depression and related fear, court records show.

A workers compensation judge found Mr. Matea was 100% permanently disabled and entitled to $314.40 per week for life, but the appeals board disagreed.

Under California labor code, employees cannot collect psychiatric injury-related compensation unless they work for an employer for more than six months. An exception occurs, however, if a worker can show the injury was caused by a sudden and extraordinary employment condition.

The appeals court, in overturning the appeals board, found that the falling lumber was "such an uncommon, unusual and totally unexpected event or occurrence that it would naturally be expected to cause psychic disturbances even in a diligent and honest employee."

The San Jose, Calif.-based based appeals court annulled the appeals board decision and remanded the case, ordering the board to issue a new order.