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Police officer electrocuted in work injury incident

In a case that will likely be of interest to Wisconsin readers, a police officer nearly died after a 2006 drug raid. However, he was not shot by drug dealers or stabbed by a criminal; instead, he was electrocuted. The officer was standing in water accumulated from the irrigation of marijuana plants and severed an electrical cord with his knife. He had thought as did another officer that the cord was unplugged; however, he found they were wrong when electricity surged through his body nearly killing him. The police officer attempted to return to work after the accident, but was unable to function as a result of his work injury.

For three years after the incident, the police officer attempted to return to work, but he constantly suffered from depression, nausea, tingling sensations, fatigue and other symptoms. Eventually, a police department psychiatrist suggested he discontinue working and diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder. Although, he did not want to stop working, he eventually applied for disability pension and decided to change his career.

However, the police department's pension trustees rejected his application and its medical doctor filed a report claiming that the police officer was actually capable of returning to work. They also claimed he acted negligently when he cut the electrical cord with his knife. Additionally, the trustees argued that his symptoms were a result of mental problems that existed before the department hired him.

Upon appeal in late 2009, he was determined to be permanently incapable of working for the police force due to his work injury. However, the hearing officer denied him a pension due to pre-existing medical disease, based upon a family history of schizophrenia. The police officer then sued the pension board, as well as the property where he was electrocuted, both suits of which are still pending. It remains to be seen if the man will win his fight to obtain the disability pension to which he strongly believes he is entitled, though as Wisconsin readers are aware, those truly injured at work are typically protected by workers' compensation laws to cover lost wages and the medical expenses related to their disability.

Source: StlToday.com, "Injured St. Louis officer cannot work, cannot get pension," Christine Byers, June 10, 2012

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