Breeden v. Workmen's Compensation Com'r, No. 15130

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtMcGRAW
Citation168 W.Va. 573,285 S.E.2d 398
PartiesBrenda C. BREEDEN v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION COMMISSIONER and Grand Union of Martinsburg, Inc.
Docket NumberNo. 15130
Decision Date17 December 1981

Page 398

285 S.E.2d 398
168 W.Va. 573
Brenda C. BREEDEN
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION COMMISSIONER and Grand Union of
Martinsburg, Inc.
No. 15130.
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
Dec. 17, 1981.

Page 399

Syllabus by the Court

1. "In order for a claim to be held compensable under the Workmen's Compensation Act, three elements must coexist: (1) a personal injury (2) received in the course of employment and (3) resulting from that employment." Syllabus Point 1, Barnett v. State Workmen's Compensation Com'r, 153 W.Va. 796, 172 S.E.2d 698 (1970).

2. An employee who sustains mental or emotional injury which occurs as a result of continuous and intentional harassment and humiliation from her supervisor extending over a period of time has suffered a personal injury as required by W.Va.Code § 23-4-1 (1981 Replacement Vol.).

Askin & Burke and D. Michael Burke, Martinsburg, for appellant.

[168 W.Va. 574] Rice, Hannis & Douglas and Lacy I. Rice, Jr., Martinsburg, for appellee.

Frank W. Helvey, Jr., Legal Division, State Workmen's Compensation Com'r, Charleston, for SWCC.

McGRAW, Justice:

This important appeal by Brenda C. Breeden, a workmen's compensation claimant, presents the question of whether a physical or mental disability which results from stress in the work place is compensable as a disability under the workmen's compensation law of this state. After examining the question, we conclude that this type of disability is compensable under the West Virginia laws.

Brenda C. Breeden began working as a part-time cashier for the Grand Union Company at its Martinsburg, West Virginia store in May of 1970. On January 12, 1976, she filed an application for workmen's compensation benefits, alleging that she was disabled in the course of and resulting from her employment with Grand Union. Specifically, she claimed that for a period of time beginning six months after her employment, she was exposed to continuous and intentional harassment and humiliation from her immediate supervisor, causing her to suffer severe mental and emotional problems.

Her claim was ruled compensable on April 23, 1976, and the employer appealed. A hearing was held on September 14, 1977, at which Mrs. Breeden testified that on several occasions her immediate supervisor cursed, grabbed, and harassed her while she was performing her duties as an employee at that store.

Mrs. Breeden stated that her supervisor had grabbed her posterior while she was working, called her "ignorant," "stupid," a "dumb ass," a "bitch," and constantly castigated her while she was attempting to work. In short, she stated that he directed towards her a continuous course of abuse, largely verbal, but also physical.

[168 W.Va. 575] A customer at Grand Union, testified on behalf of Mrs. Breeden and stated that she had overheard and observed the supervisor publicly criticize and belittle Mrs. Breeden while she was attending to her duties as a cashier at Grand Union.

The supervisor denied ever having grabbed, cursed, belittled or publicly criticized Mrs. Breeden. However, a union representative testified that he had received a number of complaints similar to those of Mrs. Breeden, in which the supervisor had abused and belittled his employees.

During this period of employment and prior to her employment at Grand Union,

Page 400

Mrs. Breeden was suffering some marital difficulties, but she stated that her marital problems were largely the result of problems she had encountered while working under her supervisor. She admitted that she had received similar treatment from her...

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12 practice notes
  • Marlin v. Bill Rich Const., Inc., No. 23121
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • February 19, 1997
    ...of occupational pneumoconiosis. 7. In light of the narrow language used by the Court in Breeden v. Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 168 W.Va. 573, 285 S.E.2d 398 (1981), the Legislature's subsequent rejection of mental-mental claims, and the clear statutory requirements for establishing......
  • Bias v. Eastern Associated Coal Corp., No. 32778.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 8, 2006
    ...of W.Va.Code § 23-4-1f was a legislative countermand of this Court's decision in Breeden v. Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 168 W.Va. 573, 285 S.E.2d 398 (1981), which had held as stated in Syllabus Point 2: "An employee who sustains mental or emotional injury which occurs as a result ......
  • Ball v. Joy Mfg. Co., Civ. A. No. 1:87-0268
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • November 8, 1990
    ...injury must be relegated to a claim under the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Statute. See Breeden v. Workmen's Compensation Com'r, 168 W.Va. 573, 285 S.E.2d 398 (1981). It appears to this Court that such an injury could also be compensable under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act. ......
  • Means v. Baltimore County, No. 20
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • March 4, 1997
    ...(Alaska 1986)); W.VA.CODE § 23-4-1f (1996) (statute amended following court decision in Breeden v. Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 168 W.Va. 573, 285 S.E.2d 398 10 We do not address today whether occupational disease based on mental illness shall be governed by special standards distin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Marlin v. Bill Rich Const., Inc., No. 23121
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • February 19, 1997
    ...of occupational pneumoconiosis. 7. In light of the narrow language used by the Court in Breeden v. Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 168 W.Va. 573, 285 S.E.2d 398 (1981), the Legislature's subsequent rejection of mental-mental claims, and the clear statutory requirements for establishing......
  • Bias v. Eastern Associated Coal Corp., No. 32778.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 8, 2006
    ...of W.Va.Code § 23-4-1f was a legislative countermand of this Court's decision in Breeden v. Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 168 W.Va. 573, 285 S.E.2d 398 (1981), which had held as stated in Syllabus Point 2: "An employee who sustains mental or emotional injury which occurs as a result ......
  • Ball v. Joy Mfg. Co., Civ. A. No. 1:87-0268
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • November 8, 1990
    ...injury must be relegated to a claim under the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Statute. See Breeden v. Workmen's Compensation Com'r, 168 W.Va. 573, 285 S.E.2d 398 (1981). It appears to this Court that such an injury could also be compensable under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act. ......
  • Means v. Baltimore County, No. 20
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • March 4, 1997
    ...(Alaska 1986)); W.VA.CODE § 23-4-1f (1996) (statute amended following court decision in Breeden v. Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 168 W.Va. 573, 285 S.E.2d 398 10 We do not address today whether occupational disease based on mental illness shall be governed by special standards distin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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