[Cross reference. Course and scope of employment (C00)].
An injury is not compensable if it was caused by an act of a third person intended to injure the IE because of a personal reason and not directed at the IE in his or her capacity as an employee or because of the employment. TLC Section 406.032(1)(C). This is commonly referred to as the personal animosity doctrine. The purpose of the doctrine is to exclude injuries resulting from a dispute which has been transported into the place of employment from the IE’s private or domestic life from coverage under the Act. However, if the conditions of employment worsen or are a factor contributing to the event that causes the injury, the injury is compensable. Nasser v. Security Insurance Company, 724 S.W.2d 17 (Tex. 1987).
Burden of Proof.
The IC has the initial burden of proof when asserting this affirmative defense. Once the IC produces probative evidence that the IE's injuries were caused due to personal reasons unrelated to the employment, the IE has the burden to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the injuries were caused due to his or her capacity as an employee or because of the employment. APD 971538. Whether such an injury is compensable is a question of fact for the ALJ to resolve. APD 971051.
Personal Animosity Found.
The IE and coworker A had a history of arguments from other jobs and problems working together. On the morning of the DOI, the IE was upset with the coworker because he had incorrectly placed a tub too close to where the IE needed to work. A second coworker moved the tub for the IE. At some point after that, the IE challenged coworker A to a fight, but no fight occurred at that time. The IE and coworker A continued to have words with each other. The IE testified that he returned to work, and coworker A struck him in the head with a hammer. Other testimony reflected that the IE and coworker A continued to taunt each other and then went outside where coworker A struck the IE with a hammer. Both the IE and coworker A ran to the IE's car (where the IE had a gun). Coworker A got there first, and he shot the IE in the foot. The ALJ determined that the IE's injuries were not compensable because they were caused by the long-standing ill feelings between the IE and coworker A and had nothing to do with the employment. The determination of whether the injury was caused by personal animosity, and unrelated to the employment, presented a question of fact for the ALJ to resolve. APD 001802.
Personal Animosity Not Found.
Several nurses alleged that a doctor had sexually harassed them while at work and brought suit against their hospital employer. However, the court found that the nurses' problems with the doctor were not transported into the workplace from their private or domestic lives; rather, their problems with the doctor only occurred while at work in the hospital. The hospital was the exclusive setting for the doctor's harassment of the nurses. The personal animosity exception did not apply. Walls Regional Hospital v. Bomar, 9 S.W.3d 805 (Tex. 1999).
The IE was harassed by coworkers. The injury was sustained when the IE had a fight with one of the coworkers who had harassed him. The ALJ determined that there was no relationship or contact between the IE and any of the harassing coworkers other than at the workplace during work hours. The ALJ determined that the injury was compensable and that the personal animosity exception did not apply. Whether the injury was not caused by personal animosity, and was related to the employment, presented a question of fact for the ALJ to resolve. APD 011962-s.
The employer sent the IE on an out-of-town business trip with her supervisor. During the trip, the employer provided overnight housing for the IE and her supervisor at a local hotel. The IE testified that she was attempting to retire for the night in her hotel room when her supervisor came into her room and sexually assaulted her. It was undisputed that the IE reported the sexual assault to the local police and to her employer. The IE also testified that she did not have a relationship with the supervisor outside of her work with the employer. The AP noted that there was no evidence of a consensual personal relationship between the IE and her supervisor outside of the work relationship or evidence of a history of ill feelings or animosity between the IE and the supervisor. The ALJ found that the sexual assault of the IE arose out of an act of a third person intended to injure the claimant because of a personal reason and not directed at the employee as an employee or because of the employment. The AP wrote that the ALJ’s finding was so against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence as to be clearly wrong and manifestly unjust. Consequently, it reversed the ALJ’s unfavorable decision on compensability of a mental trauma injury and rendered a new decision that the IE did sustain a compensable mental trauma injury. APD 111826.