McDonald's refuses workers compensation for shooting victim: Be a hero on your own time

Update: There is now an updated story with a petition: Sign the petition asking Keith Olberman to help the McDonald's hero

"They do everything they can not to pay a client. That's what we have here. They just try to get out of paying any way they can," said Haskett’s attorney Philip Wilson.

UPDATED: Just made the DailyKOS recommended list and have gotten a wealth of information regarding this issue, see notes on the bottom, Video of newscast now added.

McDonald’s employee Nigel Haskett sprung into action when he noticed a http://img27.imageshack.us/img27/1769/0219reporterheroimage1.gifwoman getting smacked in the face in the Arkansas store where he was working. Haskett can be seen in the video throwing the attacker out of the store. Moments later Mr. Haskett returned into the store and collapsed. He was shot several times and needed emergency medical attention.

Nigel Haskett won his fight for life after amassing $300,000 in medical bills. District Judge Lee Munson, who adjudicated the the criminal proceedings, called Haskett a hero. Judge Munson and his reporter felt so strongly that they each donated $100 to a fund being set up for Mr.Haskett. By all judicial rulings nationally thus far Mr. Haskett should have had his medical bills covered by Workers Compensation, but even though Mickey D's has received the good-will benefit of Mr.Haskett's actions, the corporation along with their insurance carrier are refusing to pay for the required medical attention he needed.

Here's a recap from the Arkansas Times story entitled "Be A Hero on Your Own Time":
According to newspaper accounts and Haskett's lawyer, Philip M. Wilson, Haskett was working at the McDonald's at 10201 Rodney Parham Road last August when he interceded to stop a man who was beating a woman in the restaurant. The assailant, later identified as Perry Kennon, went outside. Haskett also stepped outside and stood at the door to keep Kennon from re-entering the restaurant. Kennon retrieved a gun from his car and shot Haskett – “multiple times,” according to Wilson. Haskett, now 22, underwent three abdominal surgeries and still carries part of a bullet in his back, according to Wilson. Haskett's medical bills exceed $300,000, Wilson said.

Kennon was arrested a few days after the shooting and charged with first-degree battery. At his arraignment, where he pleaded innocent, District Judge Lee Munson lectured Kennon about his long criminal record, and lauded Haskett: “Here is this young man working for minimum wage, coming to the aid of a woman.” Munson passed the case on to Pulaski Circuit Court, and he and his court reporter each contributed $100 to a fund for Haskett that was set up by Twin City Bank.

Kennon is in the Pulaski County Jail awaiting trial.

Haskett filed a claim with the state Workers Compensation Commission. Misty Thompson, a claims specialist with McDonald's insurer, Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing, said in a letter to the Commission that “we have denied this claim in its entirety as it is our opinion that Mr. Haskett's injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment.”
But not so fast Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing, this is a clear case of good-will benefiting the employer, take for instance the case of the New York cab driver who decided to be a good Samaritan:
In this case, a cab driver was parked in a parking lot, eating his lunch, when approached by another motorist for assistance in jumping his car. The cab driver graciously agreed, but the battery exploded as he was securing the jumper cables, resulting in the cab driver losing his left eye. He filed for workers’ compensation….but he was on his lunch break when the injury occurred.
and while there was also a factor that the cab driver was on his lunch break the courts decided:
But did his injury really arise out of employment? The New York Court of Appeals determined that if an employee is injured while involved in an activity that benefits the employer, while in the course of employment, then that employee has a workers’ compensation claim. But the cab driver here was just being a Good Samaritan , right? Wrong. The court ruled that, because the cab was clearly marked with the employer's name, the assistance created a good-will benefit to the employer. In other words, the cab driver was providing free advertisement for the employer.
UPDATE: Video below found thanks to SNAFU-ed Blog

According to Arkansas Matters.com:
the insurance agency representing McDonald’s says he doesn't qualify for Worker's Compensation in this incident.

And the franchise owner of that McDonald’s says: don't jump to conclusions.

"We are all grateful to Nigel and that's why it is so unfortunate that he's having a difficult time with the insurance claim…however, the fact of the matter is that I do not have control over whether my employee's claim is paid by Worker's Compensation. It is my understanding that there has not been a final determination by the Arkansas Worker's Compensation Commission. I am taking this very seriously, and doing what I can to help and I hope his claim will come to a quick resolution and the right thing will be done for my employee."

But Haskett's attorney says he's entitled to the money, and will fight the insurance company for it in court.

"They do everything they can not to pay a client. That's what we have here. They just try to get out of paying any way they can," said Haskett’s attorney Philip Wilson.

There is a process to filing this claim and only the first part has been denied. The case will now go before a judge, then possibly the worker's comp commission. It could even be appealed to the Supreme Court.
I believe that the New York ruling sets the precedence in this matter, Mr. Haskett was doing the right thing, being a good Samaritan, and that brought about good publicity for his employer, McDonalds. As Lark over at Maeningful Distractions states(with the nifty image):
"Symbol of capitalistic greed McDonald’s is really living up to it’s reputation as an evil empire. They’re no longer merely all about moving in on the little guy, or clogging your arteries with fry grease, or making kids big chunkers, but are also now turning on their employees,"..."Horrible public relations move for the conglomerate, not to mention just morally and ethically reprehensible. McDonald’s gets a fail in existence."

I agree, except for the part of they are now turning on their employees, McDonald's has been doing that for a long time. Also to note, the surveillance video of the incident was removed from YouTube after McDonalds's complained about copyright infringement. So you know what to do, spread this information far and wide.

UPDATES: from the comments at DailyKOS:

D Wreck explains a bit about Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing

Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing - is NOT an insurance company. They act as the third party administrator for the company's SELF-INSURED worker's compensation.

I am an insurance broker and I put together and help run programs just like these.

RKFL is paid by McDonald's to make claims determinations that will either be accepted as settlements by the employee or that will ultimately be upheld by the state's worker's compensation judges/commissioners. These decisions don't happen in a vacuum, McDonald's management is aware of large claims like this and give the nod to decisions made on denials of coverage.

What happened to Haskett is a covered event under worker's comp law. McDonald's has gotten itself into a big PR mess for something they will be liable for anyway.

burrow owl also notes that Arkansas has also had good-will benefit cases where the worker prevailed against the insurance carrier. In part:

On December 11, 1978, while traveling to Hardy to make his next delivery, appellee saw a car in the ditch and a lady standing beside the road. He recognized the lady and noticed she was attempting to flag him down. Mr. Shipman was unable to stop immediately because of ice on the road. He proceeded past the disabled vehicle, turned around and returned to the stranded motorist. Her car was off the road and in a ditch. He pulled his bread truck to the side of the road, and went over to see what assistance he could render. As Mr. Shipman prepared to drive the lady's vehicle out of the ditch, he observed that the bread truck was perhaps blocking the ultimate pathway; and therefore, appellee attempted to get out of the stranded vehicle so that he could move the bread truck. Another vehicle, coming over the hill, slid on the icy road and crashed against the car on the side where Mr. Shipman was exiting, crushing his leg against the vehicle.

The sole issue involved is whether or not appellees "good samaritan" act was such a deviation from his normal business duties as to take him outside the scope of his employment at the time of the injury.

and continues with verdict

The Commission in the case before us found appellee was entitled to benefits under the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Act.

We find there is substantial evidence to support this conclusion.

Hope that clears up some of the questions about good will benefits in AR.

Phil S 33 urges us to contact McDonald's corporate

more---mini protests do work. they eventually add up.

Snail mail here:

Write us. Our U.S. corporate mailing address is:
McDonald’s Corporation
2111 McDonald's Dr
Oak Brook, IL 60523

Click here for email link

Send them some noise!!

Vet has added contact info for Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing

Main Office
8315 Cantrell Road, Suite 300
Little Rock, AR 72227
Phone: (501) 664-7705
Fax: (501) 664-8052
Direct: (501) 614-1144
Send an email: mike_halter@rkfl.com

Many are helping to fill in information that is not correct, some are sending e-mails to the insurance "broker"

Please bear with me as I get more information

Also note this article is making it's way around the net, join in the convo at these fine sites and networks:

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DailyKOS version of the story socialized at Reddit with over 600 comments

More links: The Raw Story, SNAFU-ed, RoaneViews, etc.


Anonymous said...

This truly is a fine example of American Corporate greed. McDonald's may not think that Haskett's actions were being made 'on the job', thus the denial of his worker's comp claim. However, the good PR they would have received if they had simply paid the claim would well have exceeded the cost of the claim. The bad PR they will be getting by denying the claim will cost them considerably more than the relatively puny cost of the claim! And.. they will end up paying the claim anyway. Penny wise, pound foolish!!

Anonymous said...

The decision of Mc Donald´s is disgusting! I will show the videos here in Germany and hope that many other people will react!

Unknown said...

This decision is unfortunate and more people should hear about it. I ope that the word gets out. medford oregon attorneys

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