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Exotic dancer's comp claim upheld by Indiana court:

October 15, 2007

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed an injured exotic dancer is entitled to worker's compensation benefits and remanded with instructions to the Full Worker's Compensation Board to determine if she is eligible for double compensation and attorney fees because her company did not have worker's compensation insurance at the time of her injury.

In Wholesaler's Inc. d/b/a Shangri-La v. Angela Hobson, Hobson worked as a dancer at Shangri-La in Fort Wayne. She injured herself Dec. 20, 2001, while performing a pole trick on stage and felt a pull in her neck.

Hobson informed the manager after leaving the stage of her injury and went to a chiropractor a week later after experiencing continuous pain and numbness. After nearly a month of pain, Hobson had surgery to correct a herniated disc.

Hobson filed an application for an adjustment of her claim with the Indiana Worker's Compensation Board in October 2003. After a hearing, she was awarded temporary total disability benefits and compensation for eight degrees of permanent impairment. At the time of her injury, Shangri-La did not have worker's compensation insurance.

Shangri-La appealed the board's decision, arguing there is insufficient evidence to support the award to Hobson, and its witnesses testified Hobson did not notify co-workers of her injury or appear injured.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment, stating it was for the board to decide who was more believable.

"Hobson is seeking appellate attorney fees, a 10-percent increase in her award pursuant, and double the compensation and attorney fees because of Shangri-La's violation of Indiana law in not having worker's compensation insurance.

In order for Hobson to be entitled to that, Shangri-La's appeal must be frivolous or in bad faith. The Court of Appeals found that Shangri-La exhibited neither substantive nor procedural bad faith in its appeal.

The Court of Appeals did find she is entitled to a 5-percent increase in her award and may be entitled to double compensation and attorney fees.
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