Magazine article Security Management

Workers' Compensation

Magazine article Security Management

Workers' Compensation

Article excerpt

The Superior Court of New Jersey recently overturned a lower court's decision, ruling that a security officer who died on the job while playing Russian Roulette is not entitled to workers' compensation benefits.

Bruce Money worked as a security officer for an armored truck company, Coin Depot Corporation. He was required to carry a handgun while on the job.

In August 1989, Money and two coworkers were transporting cash in an armored vehicle. As they drove, Money took out his gun, put one bullet in the cylinder, spun the cylinder, placed the gun against his chin, and pulled the trigger. The gun did not discharge. Money again spun the cylinder, placed the gun under his chin, and pulled the trigger. This time the gun fired, killing Money instantly.

Money's widow filed a workers' compensation claim requesting benefits from the company. After a four-day hearing, the judge ruled that Money died in an accident arising out of his employment, that he did not mean to kill himself, and that coworkers had told the employer of Money's propensity for playing Russian Roulette. In making his decision, the judge relied on other cases where employers that required employees to use a dangerous instrument, such as a gun, were held responsible for accidents resulting from the use of the weapon. The judge also noted that the employer's knowledge of Money's previous Russian Roulette episodes implied that the company knew of and condoned the activity.

According to the written opinion of the case, "Money's gunplay may have been a deviation from his employment, but the deviation was minor in nature" and, therefore, the accident was compensable. …

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