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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Angry This Is Bs

    Pure and simple.

    Firm denies workers' comp in racial killing
    Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Wednesday, December 3, 2008

    (12-02) 21:02 PST -- Taneka Talley was stabbed to death in March 2006 while she was working as a clerk at a Dollar Tree store in Fairfield. Her killer's only motive, prosecutors say, is that she was African American.

    Should Dollar Tree have to pay workers' compensataion in the Talley case?

    Yes, she was murdered at work
    No, killer's motivation wasn't work-related

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    That's also the reason the store's workers' compensation insurer is denying $250,000 in death benefits to Talley's 11-year-old son.

    The boy's grandmother, the child's legal guardian, said Specialty Risk Services is taking the position that a racially motivated killing is personal, not work-related - even though the man charged with killing Talley had never met her before. The insurance company, Dollar Tree and their lawyers aren't talking publicly about the case but are defending their position before a state appeals board that hears workers' compensation disputes.

    "I think it's unfair. It's discrimination," said Carol Frazier of Vallejo, who gained custody of her grandson, Larry Olden, after her daughter's death and is challenging the insurer's refusal to pay in a case that eventually could go to court.

    "They're saying (the killing) didn't arise out of her employment, except that in this case she wouldn't have been killed if she hadn't been at work," said Frazier's attorney, Moira Stagliano. "This person didn't know her, just walked into the store and picked her out."

    The opposition by Dollar Tree and its insurers to paying benefits to Talley's son represents an attempt to set new limits on California's workers' compensation system, under which a company provides benefits to employees or their survivors for work-related deaths or injuries regardless of whether the firm was at fault.

    Businesses have long assailed the system as overly generous to employees and as expensive, complaints that led to passage of state laws in 2003 and 2004 tightening limits on what medical treatment is covered by compensation payments.

    The man accused of stabbing Talley, Tommy Joe Thompson, 45, of West Sacramento, is tentatively scheduled to go to trial Dec. 10 in Solano County Superior Court on a charge of murder. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

    Talley, of Fairfield, was 26 and working full time at the Dollar Tree on North Texas Street to support herself and her young son. She was stocking shelves just after 9 a.m. on March 29, 2006, when a man walked in and stabbed her, authorities said. The killer fled.

    Thompson was arrested that evening. He had previously served a prison sentence for beating his young son in 1994, records show.

    At a hearing in March in which Thompson was found mentally competent to stand trial, a defense psychiatrist, Herb McGrew, testified that Thompson had told him he stabbed Talley because she was black. Thompson is white.

    "You know that he got up that morning, and he said, 'I'm going to kill a black person,' " said Deputy District Attorney Dane Neilson, according to a transcript of the hearing. "She was, unfortunately, the first person he saw, correct?"

    "Correct," McGrew replied.

    An insurance company lawyer later cited that exchange in a letter to Stagliano defending the denial of benefits to Talley's son.

    "The doctors testify that Mr. Thompson's motivation in stabbing Taneka Talley was purely race motivated," attorney Kelly Hamilton wrote. "As such, it is our belief that our denial in this matter is proper."

    The compensation law doesn't consider an on-the-job injury to be work-related if the motives were entirely personal - for example, if an estranged lover or spouse comes to the workplace and attacks an employee because of a private grudge.

    The line can be hard to draw when one worker assaults another for personal reasons or when the injured employee was on a personal errand or instigated the assault. But Stagliano said Talley's death was definitely job-related.

    "Taneka Talley was at work, doing her job, when she was killed," the lawyer said. "If she had not been in that store, she would not have been available to (the killer), and she would still be alive.

    "It's shocking that Dollar Tree and its insurance carrier are using the alleged racist motivation of a killer as an excuse to get out of paying benefits," Stagliano said.

    Frazier, who works for the Richmond Parks and Recreation Department, said her daughter had a $15,000 life insurance policy. It covered burial expenses, she said, but is nowhere near enough to care for a growing boy who needs new clothes every six months.

    "His mother worked hard on her job for him to get a good education, to go to college," Frazier said.

    Larry, now in sixth grade, is "a very good student, he loves sports, really good in basketball - a normal little boy," she said. "He misses his mom."


    E-mail Bob Egelko at begelko@sfchronicle.com.

    This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle


  2. #2
    Forum Member firecat1's Avatar
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    That's just LOW!

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    Forum Member rhvfd1214's Avatar
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    Interesting...

    Should Dollar Tree be held liable for the actions of Tommy Joe Thompson? I am sure that is how they are looking at their side. However, Taneka was doing her job, and wasn't the direct cause of her death, other than possibly being a target due to race. Common sense says her family should receive survivor benefits from Worker's Comp, then Dollar Tree should sue Tommy Joe Thompson for wrongful death of their employee..

    Just my two pennies..
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    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhvfd1214 View Post
    Interesting...

    Should Dollar Tree be held liable for the actions of Tommy Joe Thompson? I am sure that is how they are looking at their side. However, Taneka was doing her job, and wasn't the direct cause of her death, other than possibly being a target due to race. Common sense says her family should receive survivor benefits from Worker's Comp, then Dollar Tree should sue Tommy Joe Thompson for wrongful death of their employee..

    Just my two pennies..
    Now THAT sounds like a reasonable solution to the problem.... therefore it is the least likely to occur.
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    Forum Member johnny46's Avatar
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    They failed to protect her. They should be liable.
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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    MembersZone Subscriber voyager9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7 View Post


    "They're saying (the killing) didn't arise out of her employment, except that in this case she wouldn't have been killed if she hadn't been at work," said Frazier's attorney, Moira Stagliano. "This person didn't know her, just walked into the store and picked her out."
    Key point highlighted. She was at work.. doing her job.. and she died as a result. Isn't that the definition of what workers comp should cover?
    So you call this your free country
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    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Update:

    Dollar Tree offers to pay in full in slaying

    Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Tuesday, December 9, 2008 (12-08) 19:01 PST FAIRFIELD -- Dollar Tree, facing a public furor for denying death benefits to the young son of a slain African American employee in Fairfield, said Monday that it has offered to pay the full amount allowed by California's workers' compensation law.

    The retail discount chain had been silent in the face of widespread anger over the disclosure that its insurer insisted 26-year-old Taneka Talley's death was not work-related because the killer was allegedly motivated by the victim's race.

    In a statement Monday, Dollar Tree said it was acting voluntarily because "we feel this is the right thing to do." But a lawyer for Talley's mother and guardian of her 11-year-old son said the company was clearly responding to the public anger that followed news coverage of the case.

    "I think they would like this to be done with," attorney Moira Stagliano said. "The media helped settle this claim."

    Stagliano said she's optimistic about resolving the case but isn't there yet. "What they have offered is not quite the full value," and negotiations are continuing, she said.

    Her client, Carol Frazier of Vallejo, who gained custody of her grandson, Larry Olden, after her daughter's death, said she would let Stagliano speak for her.

    Talley was stabbed to death March 29, 2006, while stocking shelves at the store on North Texas Street in Fairfield, where she worked full time as a clerk to support herself and Larry.

    Tommy Joe Thompson, 45, of West Sacramento was arrested later that day and has been charged with murder in her death. His trial in Solano County Superior Court had been scheduled to start last week but has been postponed until at least Wednesday.

    At a March 2007 hearing on Thompson's mental competency to stand trial, a defense psychiatrist, Herb McGrew, testified that Thompson had told him he stabbed Talley because she was black. Thompson is white.

    A lawyer for Dollar Tree's insurers later cited that exchange in a letter to Stagliano defending the denial of workers' compensation benefits to Talley's son.

    "The doctors testify that Mr. Thompson's motivation in stabbing Taneka Talley was purely race motivated," attorney Kelly Hamilton wrote. "As such, it is our belief that our denial in this matter was proper."

    The state's workers' compensation law requires employers to pay benefits to employees or their survivors for all work-related injuries and deaths, regardless of whether the company was at fault. On-the-job injuries are not covered, however, if they arise from purely personal motives - for example, if an estranged spouse comes to the workplace and attacks an employee because of a private grudge.

    Stagliano said that there was nothing personal about the attack from a total stranger, and that if Talley hadn't been at work that day, she would still be alive.

    She appealed the denial of benefits to a state workers' compensation court in Oakland. The minimum death benefit is $250,000. And, in this case, an additional $75,000 or more should be added in periodic payments due until Larry turns 18, Stagliano said.

    Meanwhile, some customers have called for a nationwide boycott of Dollar Tree, and protesters picketed the Fairfield store two Sundays ago.

    In Monday's statement, Timothy Reid, Dollar Tree's vice president for investor relations, said the company had offered to pay "the full workers' compensation benefit permitted under California law."

    "Taneka Talley was the victim of a despicable crime," Reid said. "While we were advised that the claim would not be covered under the state workers' compensation law, we feel this is the right thing to do for Taneka's son."


    E-mail Bob Egelko at begeelko@sfchronicle.com.

    This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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