Employee Awarded Workers Comp for Injuries from Helpful Coworkers

August 1, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that a man injured by co-workers trying to prevent him from hurting himself or others during a seizure is entitled to workers compensation, going against the opinion of a workers compensation board.

Michael Blakeslee had a seizure in February 2002 while working for Platt Brothers and Co., an alloy manufacturer. As he regained consciousness, he began flailing around and swinging his arms and legs and two of his co-workers restrained him – an act that dislocated both of Blakeslee’s shoulders, according to the opinion .

A doctor found that the dislocations were a result of the restraint, not the seizure.

The workers compensation commissioner, and later the workers compensation review board, held that because Blakeslee’s injuries resulted from a chain of events set off by the seizure that did not arise from his employment at Platt Brothers, he could not recover workers compensation.

Blakeslee appealed the case to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which ruled that he was entitled to workers compensation since the co-workers’ restraint of Blakeslee kept him from harming other employees, which benefited the employer.    

The court also rejected the defendant’s claim that public policy counsels against the compensability of the injury in Blakeslee’s case because such a result would “have a chilling effect on co-workers and employers rendering aid to a stricken employee.”   The court said that such a consequence is not likely, because employees witnessing a co-worker in distress will not be able to tell whether the distress stems from, or will lead to, compensable or non-compensable damage.