The Mississippi Supreme Court will determine whether a trucker killed during a robbery at a truck stop in Wyoming qualifies for workers compensation benefits.
The court agreed June 14 to hear an appeal from the family of Phillip Shores. The family was initially granted workers compensation benefits by a state agency and a Rankin County judge upheld the decision.
The state Court of Appeals in 2006 reversed the awarding of benefits to Shores’ family.
The family claims Shores was acting as an employee when he went to stay at a truck stop near Laramie, Wyo., while his truck was being repaired. Shores was killed during a robbery in January 2003.
According to the court record, Shores was killed after a night of drinking at a truck stop bar. Shores had his wife drop him off at the truck stop while she took their truck to be repaired. When she returned to pick Shores up, he couldn’t be found.
Shores’ body was found later in a field near the truck stop where he had been drinking and playing pool for several hours while waiting on his wife. A man he met at the bar was convicted of Shores’ murder.
Lynn Shores sued their employer, Total Transportation Inc. of Mississippi and its insurance carrier for workers compensation benefits for the death of her husband.
The Mississippi Workers Compensation Commission approved benefits. Total Transportation appealed, claiming Shores was not killed while on the job. A judge upheld the commission’s decision in 2005.
The Appeals Court, in overturning the award of benefits, said Shores’ family could not argue he was still on the job when he was sitting in a bar, drinking and playing pool for 11 hours while his truck was being fixed.
The Appeals Court said the Workers Compensation Commission wrongly determined that Shores was killed because of his employment based on “the fact that the risk of assault was … incidental to his employment as a traveling employee far away from home.”
“Truck stops are viewed by some as dangerous places, but there is no evidence … that a person is more likely to be robbed and assaulted at a truck stop than any other public place where large numbers of people interact.
“Of course, Shores’ employment did not require him to be in Foster’s Bar at 2 a.m. His employment required him to visit truck stops, not the bars located in or near truck stops,” the Appeals Court said.
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