Friday, February 27, 2009

Don't attack McDonald's quite yet

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 11:00 AM

This week the Arkansas Times had an article about McDonald's worker Nigel Haskett, who jumped across the counter to help a woman who was being beaten. He then got into a fight with the man who was assaulting her, and the man shot Haskett several times in the stomach. That was last year. Since then Haskett's had several stomach surgeries and his medical bills have grown to more than $300,000, and McDonald's wouldn't pay the medical bills. Or at least that's what the Arkansas Times and then Huffington Post reported, and naturally blogs started a ruckus about it.

But it wasn't quite true. The McDonald's where Haskett worked was a franchisee McDonald's and the owner, Ray Nosler, had his own independent medical insurance. Nosler turned the case over to his insurance company, Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing, which refused to pay the bills, arguing that "Mr. Haskett's injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment."

At this point, McDonald's had a decision to make. It could support the decision of the insurance company and let its employees know to never physically interfere in such matters but call the police instead -- or it could back up Haskett in his lawsuit against the insurance company. McDonald's has gone with the latter. Nosler has released this statement: "McDonald's supports Nigel's claim... if for some reason his claim is denied [by courts], and other insurance options are unavailable, I intend to cover the cost of his medical expenses. I'm doing this because it's the right thing to do."

One way or another Haskett is going to get his medical bills paid. But if the courts find against Haskett, then Nosler will become a victim, too. Three-hundred grand isn't chump change, especially for an individual franchisee. As for Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing, it's owned by BancorpSouth, a bank healthy enough not to need TARP money and to record a $120 million profit last year.

Here's the security video of the attack so you can see for yourself if Haskett was acting out of the scope of employment.

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