Workers' Comp is Remedy for Families of Slain Workers

Jan. 17, 2003
Circuit Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo ruled in Honolulu that the families of seven Xerox Corp. employees shot to death by a co-worker in 1999 can't sue the company because it occurred in the workplace and therefore covered by the state's workers' compensation law.

Hifo sided with Xerox's attorneys, who argued the worst mass shooting in Hawaii history was a workplace incident. According to Hawaii's workers' compensation law, companies cannot be sued for damages if a worker is killed or injured on the job.

"The shooting occurred at Xerox's premises during work hours, and everyone involved in this was an employee of Xerox," company attorney Crystal Rose said.

The seven employees, who worked in a Xerox warehouse, were shot by Byran Uyesugi, a copier repairman. Uyesugi was found guilty of murder and is serving a life prison term without parole.

During Uyesugi's trial, defense attorney Rodney Ching claimed Xerox knew Uyesugi collected guns, that he sometimes acted violently and made threats that he might kill colleagues. In fact, Xerox sent Uyesugi to counseling after he kicked in an elevator door in 1993.

Based on that and other information, the families of the slain workers say it is unfair to consider the killings workplace injuries. They accused Xerox of failing to take sufficient steps to protect employees from Uyesugi. According to the families, Uyesugi even told supervisors he was afraid to bring his weapons to work because he might be tempted to use them.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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