Benefits & Compensation News

Worker held hostage, gets benefits

April 2, 2007, was the worst of times for Christine Jones, an employee at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Youngstown, OH.

On that date, Billy Jack Fitzmorris, a federal prisoner who was brought to St. Elizabeth’s for treatment, used a homemade knife to overpower and steal a gun from a prison guard who accompanied him.

Fitzmorris then held Jones and five of her co-workers hostage.

When Jones tried to flee, he grabbed her wrist and slammed it against a doorway to prevent her from escaping. He then threatened to kill her multiple times.

Medical conditions lead to comp claim

Claiming she suffers from an injury to her wrist and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the incident, Jones applied for workers’ compensation benefits for both conditions.

Initially, she was granted comp for the wrist injury, but she was denied it for PTSD. Jones appealed the PTSD denial, and her appeal resulted in benefits for both the wrist injury and the PTSD.

The hospital then appealed the award of benefits for PTSD.

Did wrist cause PTSD?

The case eventually made its way to the Court of Appeals of Ohio.

Previous Ohio Supreme Court rulings held that if a physical workplace injury led to PTSD, it should be covered by workers’ comp.

But her employer said Jones’ doctor’s testimony failed to prove her wrist injury was the sole cause of PTSD.

According to the appeals court, however, what the doctor’s testimony did show was that her wrist injury was a direct cause of her PTSD, even if it wasn’t the sole cause. That was enough for Jones to collect workers’ comp.

The court went on to say that Ohio law allows workers’ comp claimants to receive benefits for mental conditions that happen concurrently with physical injuries.

Cite: Jones v. Catholic Healthcare Partners

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