RALEIGH, N.C. (CN) – Stress can kill. It contributed to the death of Duke University medical secretary Betty Jeffreys, whose high-stress job “exacerbated her pre-existing diabetic condition and caused her overall health to deteriorate,” Judge McCullough concluded, awarding death benefits to Jeffreys’ sister.
Jeffreys had worked for an “exceptionally demanding doctor,” who criticized her in public and was “generally abusive” toward her, according to evidence collected by the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
The court upheld the commission’s finding that Jeffreys’ sister, Elsie Kelly, is entitled to death benefits, but ruled that the law bars her from double recovery. Because Jeffreys received disability benefits from April 1999 until her death in 2004, her sister cannot recover an additional $473.20 per week for an additional 240 weeks.