North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Watchers Captivated by Bizarre Marijuana/Grizzly Bear Case Out of Montana

June 7, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Many North Carolina workers’ compensation cases wind up being dry and technical, requiring attorneys to develop nuanced arguments based on subtle interpretations of the law. But a new case out of Montana has engendered lots of laughs and some raised eyebrows. Below are the deets.

On June 7, a judge found in favor of a 23-year old plaintiff, Brock Hopkins, who was mauled by a bear he had been feeding while high on marijuana. Brock had been volunteering at Great Bear Adventures in Montana. One day, he smoked a pipe of marijuana and came in to do his job when the bear attacked him, dislocating his knee cap, and leading to $70,000 in medical expenses.

The park’s owner, Russell Kilpatrick, argued that Hopkins’ marijuana use was the major cause of the attack – had he not been high, the bear would not have attacked. But although the judge found Hopkins behavior to be “ill advised to say the least and mind bogglingly stupid to say the most,” he also found that Kilpatrick’s testimony that he paid Hopkins “out of my heart” to be laughably disingenuous. Since Hopkins should have been considered an employee of the park, he deserved workers comp benefits.

We have to throw in this pretty amazing quote from Kilpatrick about the event: “Brock could not resist one last time of harassing the bear with his habit of blowing smoke in their faces for God only knows what reason in direct defiance of my telling him not to disturb them!!!”

Hopkins is clearly lucky to have survived the encounter and hopefully has learned his lesson. If you or another family member has been hurt at work (even if you don’t work at a Grizzly Park), your employer or the state could be liable for your medical bills, time off work and other costs. Filing out a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim is not easy. You can find more information about how to do so at the official North Carolina Industrial Commission website.

If you encounter any problems with your insurer, employer, or any other party, it may make sense to connect ASAP with a top caliber North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney to review your rights and make sure the legal system treats you fairly.

More Web Resources

Bear Attack Victim Eligible for Workers’ Comp Despite Marijuana Use

Pot not to blame for bear mauling, judge rules


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