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Decatur Workers’ Compensation Lawyer > Blog > Workers Compensation > Family Petitions State For Workers’ Comp Settlement Of Slain Prison Guard

Family Petitions State For Workers’ Comp Settlement Of Slain Prison Guard


Officer Joseph Gomm was the first prison guard murdered while on-duty in a Minnesota state correctional facility. His family bears the burden of that loss every day. They are now petitioning the legislature to authorize a $3 million settlement in Gomm’s case. The settlement would provide an end-around both personal injury barriers that prevent citizens from suing the state, and barriers that prevent employees from suing their employers.

The family says that the state was negligent when they assigned Gomm to an industry shop with no one else on duty. One prisoner took the opportunity to murder Gomm with a hammer.

Employer Immunity Protections 

Since Gomm was murdered on the job, it doesn’t matter whether or not the state was negligent. The state’s worker’s compensation policy would pay death benefits to Gomm’s family and any dependents. However, Gomm did not have a wife and children. Instead, he had a close-knit family, but none of them were dependents. The family wants the state the place $3 million into Gomm’s estate. Gomm’s family received $60,000 and Gomm’s mother received $166,000.

Sovereign Immunity Protections 

Employer immunity prevents lawsuits against employers filed by employees. Sovereign immunity prevents lawsuits against the government. The rules are different in every state, but typically, they place severe limitations on what types of lawsuits can be filed against the state and the amount of money you can recover in damages. Only when the claim is placed in the legislature can the legislature vote to award the family money. This money is paid directly by the taxpayers. The prison that failed to ensure that Gomm was safe will not be harmed by the lawsuit.

Elements of Negligence 

Because Gomm is the first corrections officer to lose his life in Minnesota, his story has sparked very strong emotions for everyone. Rest assured, your regular everyday Joe isn’t going to be able to overcome two classic barriers to a lawsuit and get the legislature to cut his estate a check for $3 million. If they could, however, the case against the employer would be a good one. Not only was the industrial shop understaffed the day of Gomm’s death, but the inmate who attacked him should not have been eligible to work with tools that could have been used as weapons. Grom himself expressed concern over the lack of staffing. He was the only one there the day that he was killed.

Talk to a Decatur, GA Workers’ Compensation Lawyer 

Injured on the job? The O’Connell Law Firm helps injured employees prove their claims after applying for workers’ compensation coverage. Rest assured, the insurer won’t gladly fork over your coverage if they don’t have to and generally, any excuse they can find will be a good reason to deny a claim. For that reason, having a skilled Decatur workers’ compensation lawyer on your side can make the difference between getting the financial support you need and going without. Call today to learn more.



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