A licensed practical nurse who suffered from preexisting pulmonary disability was permitted to recover benefits against her employer when a co-employee sprayed perfume at work. The NJ Appellate Division ruled that a licensed practical nurse was allowed to seek benefits when exposed to an employee's perfume even though the injured worker came to the employment with severe pre-existing obstructive lung disease.
The 64 year old nurse, who had smoked one pack of cigarettes daily for 43 years, had a severe reaction when a coworker sprayed herself with perfume on two occasions. The nurse subsequently became oxygen dependent and never returned to work.The court reasoned in its opinion that the accident occurred in the course of her employment and arose out of her employment. The exposure at work was deemed a "neutral risk," one that was out of the control of the employee. The court determine that had she not been at work the nurse would not have had this exposure and reaction.
Second Injury Fund
The Second Injury (SIF) was also held responsible for the pre-existing COPD condition since was indeed the intent of the SIF to encourage employers to hire workers' with pre-existing conditions. In this case the pre-existing condition was not the sole cause of the injury; therefore, making the SIF liable also.