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Get High, Get Mauled By Bear, Get Workers’ Compensation?

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Lots of people have a cup of coffee before work. Some weed before work? Not so many. Among those who do so indulge, at least on the day in question, is Mr. Brock Hopkins. Based on the title of the post, you can probably see where this is going. Dude gets high. Dude gets mauled by bear. Dude’s employer blames the weed (and also says Dude was a “volunteer” not an employee.)(And yes, The Juice did recently see “The Big Liebowski”). On that last bit, said Mr. Kilpatrick, the owner of Great Bear Adventures [or misadventures] Park, per the AP,

Kilpatrick and the co-defendant in the case, the Uninsured Employers’ Fund, contended that Hopkins should not be eligible for workers’ compensation for those injuries because he was a volunteer acting outside of his duties and was not a paid employee.

Kilpatrick acknowledged giving money to Hopkins but it was given randomly and “out of my heart,” the owner told the court.

Interesting. So what did Judge James Jeremiah Shea of the Montana Workers’ Compensation Court have to say about that?

Shea ruled that Hopkins was a regularly paid employee and Kilpatrick’s claims were not credible.

“There is a term of art used to describe the regular exchange of money for favors — it is called ‘employment,'” the judge wrote.

Snap! What about the weed?

Hopkins acknowledged smoking marijuana before arriving at work that day, the judge said. Hopkins worked on the park’s gate for about two hours, then prepared food for the bears.

Uh-oh.

After he stepped inside the bears’ pen with a bucket of food, one of the grizzly bears attacked him. Hopkins fled, managing to escape by crawling under an electrified fence. He suffered severe injuries to his leg and had to be hospitalized, according to the court.

The weed! The weed! What about the weed?

“I cannot conclude based on the evidence before me that the major contributing cause of the grizzly bear attack was anything other than the grizzly,” the judge wrote. “It is not as if this attack occurred when Hopkins inexplicably wandered into the grizzly pen while searching for the nearest White Castle. Hopkins was attacked while performing a job Kilpatrick had paid him to do — feeding grizzly bears.”

Bam! Eligible for workers’ compensation. Next case!

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