Posted On: June 4, 2010 by Steven J. Malman

Man Who Smoke Pot Before Grizzly Bear Attacked Him is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation

A judge says that a seasonal worker who was mauled by a grizzly bear he was trying to feed at Great Bear Adventures on November 2, 2007 is eligible for workers’ compensation. Brock Hopkins, then 23, sustained serious injuries during the attack, including a detached kneecap, leg wounds, and possibly permanent muscle damage.

Russell Kilpatrick, the owner of the property where the park is located, had argued that not only did Hopkins admit to taking nonprescription marijuana before coming to work, but also he was not an employee but a volunteer. Judge James Jeremiah Shea, however, disagreed and said that Hopkins was injured while doing a job that Kilpatrick had paid him to do. The judge also noted that while smoking pot before going to a job that takes place around grizzly bears is “mind-bogglingly stupid to say the most,” there was no evidence presented that was conclusive enough to convince him that Hopkins’ marijuana use played a role in causing the bear to attack. Shea said “grizzlies are equal opportunity maulers.”

It’s not clear whether or not Kilpatrick told Hopkins to feed the bear that day. Kilpatrick claims that he did not, although he admits to telling him to adjust the gates. The bear mauling incident occurred after Hopkins, who had spent two hours working on gate, went back to Kilpatrick and found him sleeping. The seasonal worker then started mixing bear food and then went into the grizzly pen where he was attacked. Hopkins was able to escape by crawling under the electric fence.

Hopkins’ workers’ compensation attorney says that his client will “hurt when he’s older” because of his work injuries. Meantime, Kilpatrick is seeking a motion for reconsideration.

In Grizzly Mauling, Judge Rules Pot Not the Cause, Flathead Beacon, June 3, 2010

Bear gets munchies for pot smoker, Associated Press/KVAL, June 4, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Illinois workers' compensation provides benefits to workers injured on the job.

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