The Bellagio blackjack dealer whose face was slashed just before Christmas this past year filed a lawsuit this week against her employer and her jailed attacker, according to theLas Vegas RJ today (2/26/13). The newspaper stated that the legal complaint against the Bellagio by the injured employee alleges that employer Bellagio failed to ensure the safety of its employees and failed to give her timely aid after her face was gashed with a razor blade by an attacker. The article wasn’t clear about the relationship between the attacker and the black jack dealer, but earlier reports referenced a domestic dispute that also involved the death of a child.
Attorney Harold Gewerter represents the injured employee in the lawsuit. I haven’t seen a copy of the Complaint he filed to intiate the lawsuit. I am interested to see how he intends to avoid a likely motion by the Bellagio to dismiss the lawsuit based on an "exclusive remedy" defense. That defense provides that if an employer purchases workers’ compensation insurance, an employee who is injured in the course and scope of employment cannot sue the employer, even if the injury resulted from an unsafe work condition. The employee’s "exclusive remedy" are the benefits described in Nevada’s workers’ compensation law if the employee has a possible work comp claim.
If the facially disfigured Bellagio blackjack dealer survives an "exclusive remedy" defense argument, it may be because the attack cannot be said to arise out of the course of the blackjack dealer’s employment. Instead, the attack may have been related to a personal dispute between the attacker and the blackjack dealter that had nothing to do with the blackjack dealer’s job. If so, then the blackjack dealer would not have a compensable workers’ compensation claim that would give her immediate medical and compensation benefits. She would then have to hope that her civil lawsuit can prove liability by the Bellagio under tort law.
–Written by Virginia Hunt, Hunt