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Court OKs civil suit in worker's injury claim


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.--A hotel employee can file a civil lawsuit against his employer and is not limited to a workers compensation remedy, even though he was injured near work, Missouri's Supreme Court ruled.

Tuesday's decision in David Harris vs. Westin Management Co. East and Jeremy Neu stems from a vehicle accident, court records show. Mr. Harris was on his way to work and riding in a car that was struck by a van driven by Mr. Neu, a Westin co-worker.Mr. Harris filed a workers comp claim and a civil lawsuit, but later dropped the workers comp case.

A trial court agreed with Westin that the case should be heard under Missouri's workers comp system and dismissed the civil lawsuit. Westin argued that because the plaintiff's lawsuit claimed premises liability on the part of Westin, the accident actually occurred on the hotel's property.

Missouri's high court disagreed. It found that the accident occurred on a public street, and that even though an employer/employee relationship exists between Harris and Westin, Mr. Harris was not at work.

Whether an employee is passing near his work place or miles away, does not matter, the court found.