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|Night manager shot on the job at Orlando car rental agency denied workers’ compensation|
By Lonce Lamonte - August 20, 2023
A divided appeals court on Wednesday, August 16th 2023, rejected workers’ compensation benefits to a manager of an Orlando, Florida, car rental agency who was shot on the job.
Mohammed Bouayad was walking at night between the Holiday Inn Orlando International Airport hotel where a Value Car Rental kiosk was located and another building. He was carrying the paperwork he had pulled out of Value’s kiosk.
He was shot seven times.
But a panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal, in a 2 to 1 decision, said as their majority decision that Mohammed Bouayad did not show a “causal link” between his injuries and the work he did for Value Car Rental in downtown Orlando. Judge Lori Rowe and Judge Thomas Winokur, as the majority pair, wrote, “The sole cause of his injuries was that he was shot. At most, the work he performed for Value placed Bouayad in the wrong place at the wrong time.” They asserted that this was not enough to establish an occupational cause.
But the dissenting opinion said the majority was improperly shifting the question of work relatedness to a third party’s motive and intent.
The dissenting judge was Susan Kelsey. She wrote that to consider the majoritiy’s analysis would have to apply to cases involving other tragic acts of workplace violence, like a teacher killed or injured in a school shooting, or a restaurant employee closing for the night and getting robbed and assaulted.
The majority opinion would mean that in those two cases workers’ compensation would not apply. This would be because the claimant could not prove the unknown assailant’s motive was work related.
When Mohammed Bouayad was shot seven times at close range on June 28, 2019, he was not robbed. Although seriously injured, when Bouayad got back to the hotel lobby where he collapsed, he said, “Robert shot me.” He told police to look for a blue Mustang.
So, this suggested there was some sort of personal conflict that was separated from anything professional. There had been a confrontation the day before the shooting between someone named Robert and Bouayad’s wife and son over an alleged debt.
Mohammed Bouayad applied for workers’ compensation, but Value Rental Car and Normandy Insurance Company pointed to the personal confrontation from the day before the shooting between the man named Robert and Bouayad’s wife and son. From this personal information, perhaps in part, Normandy Insurance denied the claim.
But this man, Robert, who was also shown to own a blue Mustang, was not charged in Bouayad’s shooting.
Thus, this dispute about workers’ compensation benefits went before the judge of workers’ compensation claims. The judge sided with Bouayad. From there, Normandy Insurance took the dispute to the appeals court.
The majority decision by appeals judges Rowe and Winokur stated the work Bouayad did for Value, which included walking between facilities, did not cause his injuries. It was the act of the shooter that caused his injuries. “So how can it be said that his injuries arose from the work Bouayad performed?”
But the dissenter, Judge Susan Kelsey, wrote that state law and court precedents have never required that a claimant has to show an assailant’s work-related motive.
“Never have we ever before imposed an impossible burden on an injured claimant to prove the intent or mental thought process of a third-party assailant.” Judge Kelsey went on to explain in her writing that a workplace shooting arising in the course and scope of employment is compensable even if the shooter's motive is not known.
email@example.com, Lonce Lamonte, editor, journalist, adjustercom.