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5. Golf proves hazardous to employee health


Beware of swinging golf clubs.

Painful and painfully stupid, golf stories ranked among the most-read stories in Business Insurance in 2017.

A country club employee whose left testicle was surgically removed after the club’s general manager struck him in the groin with a golf club is entitled to sue for damages beyond workers compensation benefits, a New York appeals court ruled in March.

William Montgomery, a locker-room attendant, was observing the assembly of golf clubs in the Glen Falls Country Club pro shop in Queensbury, New York, when the club’s general manager, Richard Hackenburg, entered. Mr. Montgomery said Mr. Hackenburg picked up a golf club shaft and struck him in the testicle, according to the ruling handed down by the New York Supreme Court appellate division. An article about the ruling was the fifth most read Workers Compensation story on Business Insurance’s website in 2017.

Golf was also at the center of this workers compensation tale of woe in April: A Montana man who was videotaped playing golf while collecting workers compensation benefits pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal theft and will have to pay back nearly $27,500, according to a statement issued by Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.

David Howke of Whitefish, Montana, worked for Big Fork, Montana-based construction contractor Aeneas Enterprises Ltd. in December 2012 when he injured his back while lifting concrete forms. The employer initially questioned the origin of the injury because it noted Mr. Howke also worked a side job on a farm on the weekends, but the claim was accepted by the Montana State Fund, the workers comp insurer of last resort, according to the charging documents.

Meanwhile, in 2014 — while Mr. Howke collected $27,478 in benefits — the state’s fraud coordinator received a confidential tip that alleged Mr. Howke was working and frequently playing golf while claiming to be injured. An investigation revealed that he had performed construction and remodeling jobs in exchange for cash and goods during the time he was collecting comp benefits while video surveillance showed him shoveling snow, lifting furniture and, yes, playing golf.

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