The Appellate Division of the Superior Court rendered a decision last week on the rare fact circumstance of whether injuries sustained during the course of an assault on premises are compensable. This was an unpublished decision.
In this case, the petitioner or employee was assaulted by her ex-husband in a parking lot at her place of employment. Both the Judge and the Appellate Division concluded that the injuries sustained were not work-related since the basis for the assault was of a completely personal nature. Nothing about the employee's job caused the assault. While the attack did arise during the course of her employment, it was not related to (did not arise out of) her employment.
Unfortunately, the facts revealed that the employee's ex-husband was trying to find her apparently in order to apologize for a previous assault. Eventually, he contacted the prior office where she was assigned and was advised that she had been transferred to a different office. It was based on this information that the ex-husband travelled to the new office location and the assault took place. Nevertheless, the Judge stated that the basis for the assault had nothing to do with the woman's employment. The Judge noted that the assault could have taken place anywhere and the ex-husband only contacted the office after he decided it would be best to meet her in public which, of course, would not be limited solely to the place of employment. It is also important to note that the Appellate Division stated that the alleged negligence of the employer in allowing her location to be disclosed or failing to provide adequate security to prevent the attack were not relevant to a conside ration of whether her claim was compensable.
Comment: What the Court did not state is whether these actions would give rise to a direct liability suit. Since the underlying claim is not compensable, there is no immunity from such a direct action by the employee.
Sara L. De Long