Court: No workers' comp in drunk dockworker case

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A federal appeals court says an Oregon longshoreman who got drunk on the job, urinated while standing on a dock and then fell 6 feet onto concrete should not get workers' compensation benefits for his injuries.

Gary Schwirse drank at least nine beers and half-pint of whiskey on Jan. 8, 2006. While standing on a dock, he urinated and fell over a railing. At the hospital, he registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.25 percent.

Schwirse sued for workers' compensation benefits and at first was victorious, when an administrative law judge ruled that workplace hazards had been a factor in his fall. But the judge later reversed his ruling when Schwirse backed off a claim that he tripped over an orange cone.

The worker appealed it to U.S. District Court, where he lost, and the case landed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied a petition for a review of claims this week. The court said his injuries were due solely to intoxication and his employers could not be held responsible.

Schwirse later tried to argue that the very concrete onto which he fell, and not his intoxication, was responsible for his injuries. That argument also lost.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge N. Randy Smith wrote in the opinion that if intoxication was the reason for the fall, then intoxication was also the reason for the injury.


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