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Aggressive pursuit of corn chips is compensable


A Circuit City Stores Inc. car-stereo installer will get work comp benefits for fracturing his hip while ramming a vending machine that refused to give up a bag of Fritos.

It isn't often that retrieving a snack becomes a compensable injury.

But the stereo installer is entitled to medical and indemnity benefits because he was within the scope of his employment when he rammed the machine with his shoulder, then fell to the ground with his hip in pain, an Illinois appeals court opinion states.

As often happens when someone pays for snacks that get stuck in a vending machine, the worker first tried shaking the machine set in a hallway just outside a workplace break room. When that didn't help he threw his shoulder into it.

Ramming the vending machine was foreseeable because products regularly jammed in it, the appeals court said. Employees at the store often shook it to dislodge snacks. So the court said that because butting the machine was foreseeable the worker was acting within the scope of his employment when he did so.

Employers concerned about vending machines contributing to employee obesity might also consider a potential for injury accidents, although the worker in this case had prior medical problems with his hip.

The court opinion doesn't mention what became of the bag of Fritos. But the worker was rushed from the scene in an ambulance.