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Comp death benefits OK'd in Arkansas fire death


LITTLE ROCK, Ark.--The survivors of an assistant manager living in the hotel where she worked are entitled to workers compensation death benefits even though she was off-duty when the fire erupted, Arkansas' Supreme Court ruled.

The Supreme Court's June 28 decision in Nimisha Jivan vs. Economy Inn & Suites overturned an appeals court finding that reversed an Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission ruling in favor of Ms. Jivan's husband and two children.

Ms. Jivan died from smoke inhalation when a fire broke out in February 2003 while she was changing her clothes to go to a gym. The Jivans lived in a room in the hotel where she and her husband, the hotel's manager, worked.

Because Ms. Jivan was on call 24 hours a day as an assistant manager, she indirectly advanced her employer's interest during the fire, the Supreme Court found. Therefore her death is compensable, the court said.

The court also noted that living on the premises exposed Ms. Jivan to greater risk than someone who did not live on the property.