Home > AOE/COE, Death Case > Jealousy and Death on the Job

Jealousy and Death on the Job

When workplace violence occurs, and when employees are injured, who has to pay?  Well, the answer, often enough, lies not in the “who” but in the “why” – what was the motive for the violence.  As we saw in a previous post, sometimes the motive for a workplace murder remains a mystery, and in those cases the applicant’s surviving dependents can usually recover a death benefit, the workers’ compensation system giving them the benefit of the doubt.

In one recent case, Mariela Paredes (Deceased), Efren Caprio v. Ralph J. Maiello DDS, Inc., applicant’s mother was murdered by her widower when he came to the dental office where she worked and opened fire, shooting four people and killing her.  You may have even seen this one in the news.

The decedent’s widower, the one pulling the trigger, discovered that she had been having an affair with a co-worker, having been informed by family members who worked with the deceased.  His own investigation revealed over 5000 minutes of cell-phone conversation between the two and one nude photo sent by his wife to the man she was having an affair with.

Decedent’s widower made threatening phone calls to the phone number on the cell phone records, and repeatedly made comments to the effect he was going to come to her office and do something.  Decedent persuaded her co-workers that he was not actually going to do anything, but was just blowing off steam with empty talk.

After decedent’s murder, the applicant’s guardian ad litem pursued a claim for death benefits, claiming that the death was sustained in the course of and arising out of employment.

The attorney for the defense argued that the death was not a result of anything work-related, but was purely personal in nature, a position with which the workers’ compensation Judge agreed.

The bottom line in this case is that the connection to the employment was pure coincidental – decedent’s widower had tried to catch her in the act away from work, but was not able to do so.  Because there is no real connection between the injury/death and the employment, other than an accidental stage, the injury itself is non-industrial.

But what about the three other shooting victims?  If they have no connection to decedent’s widower, are their claims industrial? We’ll have to wait until we see those claims come forward.

Categories: AOE/COE, Death Case
  1. Fair Practice
    February 17, 2012 at 8:29 am

    I would think that they would have a good case. A good example would be what if the ceiling of the office caved in? Would not the resulting injuries be compensable. In both cases the “arising out of” dictum is not satisfied, but the courts might give weight to the the “but if not for” argument.

    • February 17, 2012 at 8:51 am

      Fair Practice, you may be right. But I could see a WCJ going either way – for the co-workers it was just a day at the office, and no different than when a store clerk is murdered by a robber. On the other hand, the original reason for the shooting was entirely personal and non-industrial (at least to the murder victim). A sad story in either case.

      • Fair Practice
        February 17, 2012 at 10:15 am

        Even given the arbitrary bizarre judgements WCJ can deliver,I still think the parallel to the collapsed ceiling would be a strong argument for the co-workers.

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