Safety and OSHA News

Joplin tornado survivor denied workers’ comp

When social services worker Mark Lindquist knew the Joplin, MO, tornado was approaching, he jumped into action to protect three developmentally disabled adults in a group home from harm. Now a workers’ comp insurer says it won’t pay for Lindquist’s extensive injuries that have cost him $2.5 million so far. 

Mark Lindquist and his co-worker, Ryan Tackett, had just gone through a tornado drill, so they knew what to do. There was no basement or shelter, and the three men with Down syndrome wouldn’t be able to move fast enough to move somewhere else. So Lindquist and Tackett placed mattresses over the men and climbed atop the bedding.

Tackett survived; the three men did not.

Two houses away from the group home, rescuers found Lindquist. At first, they thought he was dead. His body had suffered so many injuries that it swelled to the point that he was unidentifiable. It wasn’t until three days later that his family found him in a hospital.

Every rib in Lindquist’s body had been broken his lungs were punctured; his sternum was broken; his right shoulder was shattered. He was in a coma for seven weeks and suffered a serious fungal infection during that time that killed others hospitalized after the tornado.

Lindquist’s job paid barely more than minimum wage. He couldn’t afford health insurance. He thought his employer’s workers’ comp insurance would pay his medical bills.

Accident Fund Insurance thought otherwise. His claim was denied “based on the fact that there was no greater risk than the general public at the time [he was] involved in the Joplin tornado.”

John Hurn, CEO of Community Support Services, Lindquist’s former employer, said the agency has asked the insurance company to reconsider.

Lindquist could also appeal the decision to the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation. The miracle tornado survivor said he’s still weighing his options.

A spokeswoman for the Division of Workers’ Compensation says of 132 claims filed after the tornado, only 8 were denied by insurance companies.


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  1. sheralroh says:

    Seriously, his claim was denied. This is where the WC system is terribly messed up. People who file bogus claims are getting paid and this poor guy who tried to save others is being denied. That’s it, I am leaving this country and going someplace where the system is a little more reliable.

  2. I don’t get it. Why deny him? He was doing his job when the tornado hit.

  3. Had he been an illegal hyspanic he would have gotten his bills paid and a multimillion dollar settlement. This system is bogas. He had just attended training for this emergency and now is being penalized by his employeers insurance company for doing his job.

  4. Second thought there ought to be some recourse for psycological stress incurred while fighting with the insurance carrier over this incident. Their actions psycologically are just as injuring as the physical injury itself!!!

    WC was inacted to prevent companies from being sued for neglegance and putting them out of business. Now insurance carriers go on the warpath with claiments by way of refusals and intimidation tactics to get you to give up your claim! This in it self is debilitating and psycologically draining.

  5. He took the training, acted in accordance with it, and practically died trying unsuccessfully to protect his charges. Unless there is a specific clause in the comp policy excluding “acts of God,” I don’t understand the denial.

  6. I’m speechless. As a former claims adjuster, claims department manager, and now risk manager I’ve seen so many bogus and questionable claims paid. Yet this man who was clearly in the course and scope of his employment, doing his job caring for those less able than he to take care of themselves is denied. Mental mental claims are often denied on the basis they used, but I’ve never seen physical injuries denied on that basis.

    It only takes a few instances like this for public sentiment to be against the “big evil insurance company”. Shameful.

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