Applicant is ruled Initial Physical Aggressor and the case is ruled Non Industrial

This is a Board Panel decision

This is a very significant case for workers’ compensation principles.

The applicant was a school teacher. The teacher blocked a doorway to prevent students form leaving the classroom after class was over. He intended on telling several students they were failing the class.

A student attempted to exit the doorway. The teacher told the student to sit down. The student told the teacher to get out of his way. At that time some spit from the students mouth appeared to go toward the teacher. The teacher slapped the student in the face. The student them punched the teacher in the chest.

The teacher filed a workers’ compensation claim alleging a psychiatric injury with post traumatic stress. The case went to trial and the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) ruled the applicant suffered a psychiatric injury but compensation was denied by the initial physical aggressor rule. 3600 (a)(7). The applicant filed a petition for reconsideration. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) reviewed case law including Mathews v. WCAB and Gegic v. WCAB.

The WCAB reviewed the psychiatrist report that applicant had sustained a psychiatric injury. Even though he had a psychiatric injury he was denied compensation as the initial physical aggressor.

The Board determined the student did not deliberately spit on the teacher it was just liquid released from his mouth while he was talking.


Harvey Brown
3501 Jamboree Rd. Suite 602
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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