Two brothers get into an argument at work. One brother ends up shooting and killing his own brother at a job site. Is the estate of the deceased brother entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits? That's what the North Carolina Industrial Commission recently had to decide.
In September 2000, Wilbert Radel Forbes and Ernest Lee Forbes were working on a logging crew for Kenneth L. Goodson Logging, Inc. The logging crew was clearing a tract of timber near Enfield, North Carolina.
The two brothers got into an argument, which escalated into pushing and threats, according to witness testimony. Wilbert Forbes then pulled out a .38 caliber handgun and shot his brother in the face, the witness said. Ernest Forbes died as a result of the gun shot wound. During a criminal trial, Wilbert Forbes testified that the gun fired accidentally.
The estate of Ernest Forbes filed for workers' compensation benefits, arguing that his death was work-related. While the brothers reportedly argued often, the argument on the day of the fatal incident was work-related, the family said.
The North Carolina Industrial Commission said the estate was entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
"The argument that lead to decedent's death was at least in part motivated by Wilbert Forbes' feelings regarding work having been performed in his absence on the preceding Saturday," the commission wrote. "Regardless of whether the shooting was intentional or accidental, and regardless of the verdict in the criminal trial, decedent's death was causally related to his work with defendant-employer."
The commission awarded 400 weeks of compensation at the rate of $320.18 to the decedent's widow, Caroline Forbes.
Source: Forbes v. Kenneth L. Goodson Logging, Inc.