Workers' Comp Award Not Tied to Fault of Employee

December 19, 2006 ( - The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that a dairy farm employee, who was injured after he deliberately put his foot under the tire of a pickup truck driven by his supervisor after the two of them had an altercation, was eligible for workers' compensation.

Daniel Sepulveda and his supervisor had an argument after his boss reprimanded him for being late, after which his boss returned to his truck and began to back up, according to the ruling. Sepulveda then intentionally placed his foot under the pickup’s tire, injuring his foot.

The court agreed with The Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board and an administrative law judge’s order awarding Sepulveda compensation and ruled that even though placing Sepulveda’s foot under the tire was not a job duty, it “arose out of employment” because it happened in the context of employment discipline, according to the opinion.

The court said that Sepulveda did not intend to harm himself, so the fact that he had a hand in the injury was irrelevant in deciding whether he could get workers’ compensation.

In doing so, the court rejected Columbia River Dairy’s argument that “there was no part of claimant’s job that placed him at risk for intentionally placing his foot under the tire of a car and that, if proper focus is directed to that conduct, the conclusion must be reached that the injury did not arise out of the employment.”

The decision in Columbia River Dairy v. Sepulveda is here .