Glossary Check: 'Gillette Injury' in Minn.

17 Mar, 2023 Frank Ferreri

                               

Stuart, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) -- If someone told you they experienced a "Gillette injury" you might think they had a shaving mishap warranting the services of a styptic pencil.

If you were in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, however, you might know that workers' compensation law was involved.

So what is a Gillette Injury in Minnesota?

The term comes from a Minnesota Supreme Court case, Gillette v. Harold, Inc., 257 Minn. 313 (Minn. 1960) that's now 63 years old.

In the case, the worker was a 17-year-tenured "saleslady" for a "ladies' ready-to-wear store" and "was necessarily required to be on her feet ... most of the time." The 53-year-old worker, who was described as weighing 118 pounds and standing 5 feet 3 inches, developed pain in her foort as a result of a chip fracture of the "lateral cuboid bone" in her left foot. Because the worker also had "a gout condition" unrelated to the job, the question Minnesota's top court had to answer was whether the worker's disabling condition, which the referee and commission found to be caused by an aggravation of the worker's preexisting "infirmity," was a compensable injury under workers' compensation law.

The rule that emerged from the court's reasoning spelled out that repeated trauma or aggravation of a preexisting condition results in a compensable injury when the cumulative effect is sufficiently serious to disable the employee from further work.

In the worker's case, the court found a compensable injury.

"In her work as a saleslady the employee's acts of standing and walking were vital and necessary to the performance of her usual tasks," the court wrote. "The record indicates that for at least 7 hours in each workday she was constantly on her feet and during an average workday she walked a distance of approximately 18 miles."

As far as what to think about the combination of the gout condition and the work-related injury, the court crafted the Gillette standard.

"The preexisting infirmity from which she suffered was aggravated as a result of the ordinary and necessary duties which she performed," the court wrote. "The gradual process of the physical exertion required by her work resulted in weakness and pain, the accumulated effect of which is the disability from which she suffers."

As a result, the court held in worker's favor, the precedent stands to this day, and award of $250 in attorney's fees was allowed. 

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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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