It may seem like a cut-and-dried case that a restaurant manager who is shot and wounded by a robber will receive workers’ comp benefits. But where this shooting took place left this case open to question.
Jay Kil worked as the manager of Legend Cafe in Georgia. Kil lived with his co-workers and the restaurant’s owner, Willmore Lim.
After returning from work each day, Kil and Lim would spend an hour or so reviewing the restaurant’s daily sales, receipts and inventory.
When the restaurant closed late at night on May 19, 2016, Lim drove Kil and another worker back to their home without taking a detour. Lim had the day’s receipts with him and planned to review them with Kil as they usually did.
After they pulled into their home’s garage, three men ran up to the car and demanded at gunpoint that they hand over a “bag of money.”
Lim and Kil didn’t have cash with them. When one of the attackers noticed Kil had a gun in his sweater, they fled. But as they were fleeing, one attacker shot Kil in the forearm.
Kil spent more than two weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries. Kil hasn’t worked since the shooting, and he applied for workers’ comp benefits.
Still at work?
An administrative law judge awarded Kil workers’ comp benefits, concluding the injury occurred in the course of his employment because Kil was in “continuous employment” at the time of the shooting because he had to meet with Kim at home to review the day’s receipts.
The Georgia Board of Workers’ Compensation upheld the ALJ’s decision but concluded the “continuous employment” doctrine didn’t apply. Instead, the Board relied on the evidence in this unique case. The Board found that “although the restaurant had closed for the day, the Employee’s job responsibilities had not yet ended.”
The company appealed to a state court which reversed the Board. The court found Kil’s injury didn’t arise out of his employment because he was injured as he arrived home from the restaurant which was something that wasn’t part of his job duties. Kil appealed to a higher court.
The Court of Appeals of Georgia reversed the lower court’s order and found Kil was in the course of employment when he was injured. The appeals court noted normally an injury while an employee is going to and from his place of employment doesn’t arise from the course and scope of employment.
But to support awarding comp benefits to Kil, the appeals court noted:
- one of Kil’s key job responsibilities was to spend about an hour everyday at the home he and Kim shared going over the day’s receipts
- Kil was with the owner at the time of the shooting
- both were in possession of the receipts they were going to review as they usually did at home each day, and
- Kil and Lim didn’t take any personal detours on the way home on the night of the attack.
“Thus, under the unique circumstances of this case, we conclude that the Board did not err as a matter of law when it determined that Kil’s injury occurred in the course of his employment,” the appeals court wrote.
(Kil v. Legend Brothers LLC, Court of Appeals of Georgia, No. A19A0048, 6/21/19)