Equal Opportunity Mauler


Here is yet another bizarre worker’s compensation case. In November of 2007, Brock Hopkins went to work at Great Bear Adventure Park in Montana. Prior to Staring work, Hopkins smoked marijuana. It was unclear wether Brock was asked by Russell Kilpatrick to fee the bears in the bear pens. However, Brock did feed the bears and somehow ended up in the bear pen where he was attached by a bear. He managed to escape but suffered serious injuries to his legs and knees. Kilpatrick took him to get medical attention. The issues that the court had to decide was wether Hopkins was in fact an employee of Kilpatrick, and wether the marijuana usage had anything to do with the accident. Kilpatrick stated that Hopkins was a volunteer at the park. However evidence showed that kilpatrick payed Hopkins for his services in cash. Including $300 dollars which he gave him at the hospital the day of the attack. The court decided that, because he was being compensated for his services, he was indeed an employee. The court also decided that the marijuana had nothing to do with the bear attack, because bears will attack anyone without regard to age, race, religion, or marijuana usage. This case is a classic, yet bizarre and  horrific, example of employers who try to get away with not paying for workers compensation insurance and other employment related taxes. The employer payed Hopkins in cash and considered him a volunteer. However under the law, even cash for services can be considered employment. Although I don’t condone the use of drugs, and I agree that marijuana can alter your state of mind. I agree with the judges decision in this case.



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