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Killing of woman in employer's parking lot not compensable: Court

Killing of woman in employer's parking lot not compensable: Court

The death of a woman, who was shot and killed by her estranged husband in an HSBC Card Services Inc. parking, lot did not “arise out of” her employment, South Dakota's Supreme Court has ruled unanimously.

Wednesday's ruling in Ronald Voeller v. HSBC Card Services Inc. and Chartis Insurance denied workers compensation death benefits for the estate of Julie Tassler. Ms. Tassler was killed in 2008, when she took her morning work break in her employer's parking lot.

Her husband killed Ms. Tassler the day after he was served with divorce papers. He also killed himself, according to court records.

Her estate argued that that had Ms. Tassler not been at work that day, her husband would not have killed her in the only place he was assured that it would not happen in front of their two children.

The employer argued that Ms. Tassler's death arose from a domestic assault that was purely personal with no connection to the workplace.

An administrative law judge concluded that Ms. Tassler's death did not arise from her employment and was not compensable. He granted the employer's request for summary judgment, and a circuit court affirmed.

In its ruling, South Dakota's Supreme Court agreed, finding that the employer's only connection to the shooting death was that her husband found her at work and she was not performing her duties when she was killed.

“The assault cannot possibly be attributed to her employment,” the court said. “We hold that Julie's death did not arise out of her employment.”