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“Victim's heroics rouse judge,” read a headline in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, but Nigel Haskett's heroics apparently didn't rouse his employer, McDonald's. The hamburger kingpin has denied Haskett's claim for workers compensation benefits.
According to newspaper accounts and Haskett's lawyer, Philip M. Wilson, Haskett was working at the McDonald's at 10201 Rodney Parham Road last August when he interceded to stop a man who was beating a woman in the restaurant. The assailant, later identified as Perry Kennon, went outside. Haskett also stepped outside and stood at the door to keep Kennon from re-entering the restaurant. Kennon retrieved a gun from his car and shot Haskett – “multiple times,” according to Wilson. Haskett, now 22, underwent three abdominal surgeries and still carries part of a bullet in his back, according to Wilson. Haskett's medical bills exceed $300,000, Wilson said.
Kennon was arrested a few days after the shooting and charged with first-degree battery. At his arraignment, where he pleaded innocent, District Judge Lee Munson lectured Kennon about his long criminal record, and lauded Haskett: “Here is this young man working for minimum wage, coming to the aid of a woman.” Munson passed the case on to Pulaski Circuit Court, and he and his court reporter each contributed $100 to a fund for Haskett that was set up by Twin City Bank.
Kennon is in the Pulaski County Jail awaiting trial.
Haskett filed a claim with the state Workers Compensation Commission. Misty Thompson, a claims specialist with McDonald's insurer, Ramsey, Krug, Farrell and Lensing, said in a letter to the Commission that “we have denied this claim in its entirety as it is our opinion that Mr. Haskett's injuries did not arise out of or within the course and scope of his employment.”
The Times sought elaboration, but a McDonald's spokesman said the company couldn't provide it at present. The owner-operator of the restaurant where the incident occurred can't talk about it because the case is pending in court, she said.
Wilson wrote in a letter to the Times:
“McDonald's position now is that during thirty-minute orientation Mr. Haskett and the other individuals going through the orientation were supposedly told that in the event of a robbery or anything like a robbery . . . not to be a hero and simply call 911. Mr. Haskett denies that anything like that was even mentioned during orientation or at any time during his employment with McDonald's.”
The case is pending before the Workers Compensation Commission. No hearing has been set.
McDonald's is beset with labor-management problems, it seems. Besides the Haskett case, the company is fighting a bill before Congress that would make it easier for workers to form unions. Organized labor has condemned McDonald's for its efforts.
Watch security video footage of the assault here.
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