Employee Who Is "A Heart Attack Waiting To Happen" May Recover Under IWCA

Dunlap v. Nestle U.S.A., Inc., 2005 U.S.App. LEXIS 27070 (7th Cir. 2005)
The Seventh Circuit recently held that an employer may be liable under the Illinois Workers? Compensation Act to an employee who had a heart attack at work and no medical attention was sought for eight hours.  The Court stated that even if the employee was a ?heart attack waiting to happen,? he would be able to recover if the ?causative factor? that lead to his heart attack happening sooner, rather than later, was work.  The Court also held that the employee in this particular case would be able to recover damages even if his job duties were not the ?causative factor? to the heart attack.  Its reasoning behind this is that the employee?s injuries were aggravated when the employer failed to respond to the situation. 
The Seventh Circuit also stated that its ruling was binding on the Illinois Workers? Compensation Commission (?IWCC?).  It is important to note that federal courts rarely ever hear cases involving state workers? compensation statutes.  The employee in this case filed a claim with the IWCC and also filed a state tort claim against the employer.  The state tort claim was ultimately removed to federal court due to diversity of the parties.  The Court remanded the case to the IWCC for further proceedings in accordance with its ruling. 


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