Courage in the face of a tornado’s 200 mph winds is something to be respected and honored. The EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri was among the nation’s worst ever. It killed 162 people and destroyed more than 7,000 homes. A Joplin Social Worker’s heroic acts have resulted in permanent injuries, disability from work and a denial from the workers compensation insurance company.
Mark Lindquist’s survival defies logic. Lindquist noticed the skies darkening on the evening of May 22 while on his way to the group home occupied by three middle-aged men with Down syndrome. Soon after he arrived, a tornado siren began to blare. Lindquist’s employer, Community Support Services, had recently put workers through a tornado drill, so Lindquist and a co-worker knew what to do. Because there was no basement or shelter and the residents moved too slowly to relocate, they placed mattresses over the men for protection, then climbed atop the mattresses for added weight. After the storm, rescuers found Lindquist buried in rubble, impaled by a piece of metal. He was in a coma, expected to be in a vegetative state, and developed the fungal infection that killed other Joplin tornado victims.
But this heroic social worker with no medical insurance and a job barely paying above minimum wage did survive, and even recover, though not completely. But what stunned me was the fact that his workers compensation claim was turned down ! Lindquist’s claim was denied "based on the fact that there was no greater risk than the general public at the time you were involved in the Joplin tornado," according to a letter from Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, his company’s workers’ comp provider. Had he been running around on the street or commuting home, perhaps. But he was trying to save those in the group home from a tornado, something he and his co-workers had been trained to do ! Please read the full news account.
Everyone at the Landau Law Shop hopes that Mr. Lindquist appeals this unconscionable insurance claim denial and that he eventually gets justice in the Division of Workers Compensation or courts of Missouri. Lastly, as an eternal optimist, I would encourage everyone to read the ending to the news story !