Supervisor Who Incited Fight Must Face Trial

     (CN) – An EMS supervisor in Louisiana must face a lawsuit for allegedly inciting an employee to attack a co-worker, a state appeals court ruled.
     Martha Humble and her husband filed a tort action against Pafford Emergency Medical Service, supervisor Zach Helton and co-worker Dianna Hackler.
     The Humbles alleged that Hackler came to work one day and started verbally abusing Humble, stating that she would not accept a dirty, unmaintained ambulance.
     Humble stated that the abuse turned physical, with Hackler choking her and kicking her in the shins.
     Humble accused Helton of instigating the fight by promising to pay Hackler to administer the punishment, and to pay her bail if she were arrested for the assault.
     Helton argued that he was immune under the Workers’ Compensation Act and that the Humbles failed to allege facts to support a cause of action based on an intentional action.
     The trial court ruled that Humble had a case against her alleged attacker, Hackler, but not against her supervisor, Helton, due to her available remedy through workers’ compensation.
     However, the Shreveport-based Second Circuit Louisiana Court of Appeals overturned the decision, stating that Humble had a case against her boss.
     “Ordinarily, an employee is limited to recovering workers’ compensation benefits, rather than tort damages, for injuries sustained on the job. However, this exclusive remedy rule is inapplicable when the employee’s injury is caused by the employer’s intentional act,” wrote Judge Felicia Toney Williams on the court’s behalf.
     The judge added that Humble’s alleged bail promise “indicated that he consciously desired Hackler to physically attack and harm Mrs. Humble and urged her to do so with impunity. We feel that Helton’s promise and commitment to Hackler shows that he had a conscious desire to have Mrs. Humble harmed.
     “Clearly, this type of incitement and instigation by Helton, the supervisor, is the exact type of behavior that is beyond the scope of the Workers’ Compensation Act,” Williams added.

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