No Workers’ Comp Benefits for Widow of Murdered Employee

By Staff Report

Oct. 11, 2010

The widow of a worker whose murder on his employer’s premises remains a mystery is not entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits, Tennessee’s Supreme Court ruled.

The Oct. 6 ruling in Ana R. Padilla vs. Twin City Fire Insurance Co. stems from the July 13, 2007, death of Jose Sanchez, a mill worker who generally began work each day long before other workers arrived at Xelica in Nashville, Tennessee, court records state.

The owner of the business found Sanchez that day shot to death. But with few clues, the unsolved murder eventually was turned over to a police department’s homicide cold-case unit.

Padilla sued for death benefits for herself and her daughter, presenting evidence that the shop was in a high-crime area. She argued that the only reasonable conclusion is that Sanchez was killed during a burglary and the assault was therefore connected to his job, court records show.

But a trial court concluded that there was not enough evidence to establish that burglary was a motive for the murder as nothing was taken from the premises and there was no sign of a forced entry. The court also concluded that there was no evidence the murder was related to Sanchez’s private life.

It therefore concluded the murder resulted from a “neutral assault.” The court also declined to apply Tennessee’s “street risk” doctrine, because the employer’s premises were not open to the public.

The street risk doctrine applies in cases where an employer exposes a worker to street hazards that could cause an injury, court records state.

The trial court dismissed Padilla’s complaint, and a Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel affirmed the trial court’s dismissal. The Supreme Court then agreed with the panel’s finding.

 Filed by Roberto Ceniceros of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail


Stay informed and connected. Get human resources news and HR features via Workforce Management’s Twitter feed or RSS feeds for mobile devices and news readers.


blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog


EEOC says that employers legally can offer incentives to employees to get vaccinated in almost all instances

If you’re an employer looking to get as many of your employees vaccinated as possible, you can rest eas...

ADA, CDC, COVID-19, EEOC, GINA, pandemic, vaccinated

workforce blog


Fixing some common misconceptions about HIPAA

Ever since the CDC amended its COVID-19 guidance to say that the fully vaccinated no longer need to wea...

COVID-19, health care, HIPAA, human resources, wellness

workforce blog


We are in the midst of a public mental health crisis; how employers can help

Do not ignore these issues or your employees who are living with them. Mental health illnesses are no d...

ADA, benefits, Coronavirus, FMLA, mental health, paid time off