Applicant awarded benefits while working at home of defendant who was growing marijuana at his residence

This is a decision denied judicial review

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

The applicant was hired by the defendant to perform household services including cooking, cleaning and construction projects at the defendant’s residence. The applicant was also hired to do tasks with the defendant’s illegal marijuana cultivation business. The applicant was paid $500 a week plus room and board.

The applicant was shot by an intruder and was paralyzed. He filed for workers’ compensation benefits against the uninsured homeowner.

The uninsured employers fund contended the applicant should not receive benefits because defendant was involved in an illegal business. Defendant was charged with a felony but charges were dismissed.

Since the applicant performed services within the home of the defendant he was covered under Labor code section 3351 (d). It was a legal employment relationship and fell within scope of Labor Code section 3600. The applicant was never implicated in any illegal activities.

The Worker’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) and Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) decided that the applicant would have been covered as a residential employee by the defendant’s home owner policy if he had one under section 3351(d). Therefore, the uninsured employers fund was liable.

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