Workers’ comp benefits OK’d for wounded manager

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - An Omaha clothing store manager shot up to nine times in revenge for reporting an earlier robbery is entitled to compensation for drug and alcohol rehab and treatment of post-traumatic stress syndrome, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The state's high court affirmed a Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court’s ruling last year that Matthew Kim is entitled to temporary total disability benefits. It also found that Kim’s emergency room visit and inpatient treatment for drug and alcohol use months after the June 2011 shooting should be covered.

The high court also upheld the lower court’s finding that Kim is entitled to payment of future medical expenses.

Authorities say that two Omaha brothers conspired to kill Kim after he reported the robbery of Gen-X clothing store to police. Police said Gatdet Chuol, 21, was arrested and jailed on suspicion of robbing the store, and that he recruited his younger brother, 19-year-old Gamar Chuol, to kill Kim to keep the store manager from testifying.

Police said that days after the robbery, Gamar Chuol walked in to the store and began firing at Kim, who ran to the back of the store and collapsed. Gamar Chuol found Kim, stood over him and shot him several more times, police said.

Kim survived, but suffered serious injuries and walks with a limp.

Gatdet Chuol is now serving to up to 40 years in prison for conspiracy, and Gamar Chuol is serving up 70 years for first-degree assault and weapons counts.

Kim and his doctors testified that Kim had used drugs and alcohol recreationally before the shooting, but that he became addicted afterward. Kim was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and testified he had recurring nightmares of his family being harmed.

Gen-X and its insurer, Farmer’s Truck Insurance Exchange, appealed the decision of workers’ compensation court, arguing, among other things, there was no link between Kim’s shooting in June 2011 and his emergency room visit for a panic attack on Oct. 2, 2011.

The state's high court disagreed.

Kim testified that right around this time, his alcohol and drug use began to increase and he became afraid to sleep or leave the house,” Chief Justice Michael Heavican wrote for the court. “Kim testified that the situation culminated on Oct. 2, 2011, when he awoke from a nightmare, with his heart racing, and had a panic attack.”

An attorney for Gen-X and its insurer did not immediately return a call Friday seeking comment.

Dirk Block, an Omaha attorney representing Kim, said Friday his client is pleased with the decision. Although Kim has continued his psychiatric and drug and alcohol abuse treatment, Gen-X’s insurer has not made any payments to Kim for that treatment since September 2012.

“He’s still struggling, both physically and emotionally,” Block said. “But he is a very brave man.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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