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A cashier robbed at gunpoint is not entitled to workers compensation for her mental injuries, the West Virginia Supreme Court held Friday.
In Black v. Same Old Place Inc., the West Virginia Supreme Court in a 4-2 decision affirmed a review board’s ruling that because the cashier did not have an accompanying physical injury, her post-traumatic stress disorder was not compensable under state code.
Amanda Black worked as a cashier for Same Old Place Inc., a gaming parlor in Huntington, West Virginia. On May 5, 2018, a man buzzed the door of the parlor for entrance, and after walking in, he held up Ms. Black at gunpoint, taking more than $600 from the till and stealing her car keys and vehicle outside.
Three days later, Ms. Black sought treatment for difficulty sleeping, eating and leaving her house at a walk-in clinic; she signed paperwork identifying it as an occupational injury illness. She was diagnosed with PTSD, prescribed medication and referred to a psychiatrist. The referral was submitted for approval from the parlor’s workers compensation insurer.
The gaming parlor’s claims administrator rejected the claim on the basis that Ms. Black did not report a physical injury, that her decision to buzz in the man violated policy and that she failed to activate the panic alarm after the robbery.
However, the West Virginia Workers Compensation Office of Judges reversed the administrator’s order, holding that Ms. Black’s claim for PTSD was compensable, classifying it as “extreme” and therefore outside of the requirements state code, which states that no injury can be recognized as compensable if it did not result in any physical injury to the worker claiming benefits. The West Virginia Board of Review reversed and vacated that decision, reinstating the administrator’s rejection of the claim.
The West Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the claim’s rejection. Although Ms. Black argued that her condition had many demonstrable physical symptoms, the court held that these did not establish the physical components necessary for a compensable mental claim.
The dissenting justices did not write an opinion.
A first responder who witnessed the rescue of a young boy who drowned in 2015 and who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2019 following a diving trip with friends that caused nightmares does not qualify for mental injury benefits under Florida law because he did not file a workers compensation claim in time, an appeals court in Florida ruled on Monday.