Workers comp benefits allowed for victim of hostage situationPosted On: Jan. 4, 2013 12:00 AM CST
An Ohio hospital employee who was held hostage at work by a prison inmate can receive workers compensation benefits for her post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the standoff, an Ohio appellate court has ruled.
Christine Jones worked as a unit clerk and monitor technician for St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, Ohio, court records show. A prison inmate who was being treated at the hospital took Ms. Jones and five of her co-workers hostage for 25 minutes in April 2007.
Ms. Jones testified that the inmate banged her right wrist against a doorway during the standoff, and that he threatened to kill her and another hostage with a gun stolen from a guard in the hospital. The inmate soon escaped and was caught in another state, records show.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation awarded workers comp benefits for Ms. Jones' fractured wrist but denied benefits for her PTSD claim. On appeal, a workers comp hearing officer granted benefits for Ms. Jones' PTSD claim.
In further appeals, St. Elizabeth argued that Ms. Jones' PTSD should not be covered, contending that it was not directly caused by her physical injuries.
In the most recent lower court decision, Ohio's Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas upheld Ms. Jones' PTSD claim. In that ruling, the court noted a doctor's testimony that Ms. Jones' wrist injury was a contributing cause to her mental condition, even if it was not the sole cause.
In a unanimous decision Monday, Ohio's 7th District Court of Appeals upheld the common pleas court ruling.
In its opinion, the court said that Ohio case law allows workers comp claimants to receive benefits for mental conditions that happen concurrently with physical injuries.
“The two depositions of (Ms. Jones') treating physician provide consistent testimony that the physical injury to (Ms. Jones) is a proximate cause of her PTSD, although concededly not the sole proximate cause,” the ruling reads. “She also suffers from the stress of being taken hostage.”