PF Chang’s v Indus. Comm’n of Ariz. – 8/16/2007

September 27, 2007

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Applies “Friction and Strain” Rule to Affirm Industrial Commision Award of Compensation for Injury From Workplace Assault.

PF Chang’s, a restaurant, appealed from the ICA’s finding of a compensable claim in favor of Ngok Wau Lau, a former PF Chang’s cook who was assaulted and injured by a supervisor following a workplace disagreement. On appeal, PF Chang’s argued that the ALJ erred in holding that the assault was anything but “purely personal” (and thus did not arise out of Lau’s employment).

To be compensable, an injury must both arise out of and be sustained in the course of employment. A.R.S. § 23-1021(A) (2005). The Court of Appeals explained that assault-related injuries are generally compensable when the altercation arises out of a work-related dispute. Moreover, under the “friction and strain rule,” even if the subject of the dispute is unrelated to the work, the assault is compensable if the work of the participants brought them together and created the relations and conditions which resulted in the clash. The Arizona appeals court adopted the “friction and restraint” rule, rejected P.F. Chang’s argument, and held that because the assault arose out of “the friction and strain” of employment, the ALJ properly awarded a compensable claim.

Judge Thompson authored the opinion; Judges Irvine and Snow concurred.