A Greensboro, N.C., woman attacked at work and kidnapped by her boss and his wife is fighting with an insurance company over her workers’ compensation claim, the News & Record and the Associated Press reported.
The issue is whether the attack was work-related or personally motivated.
Tabitha Sells was working at a Glass Pro automobile glass repair shop on Sept. 18, 2004, when her manager and his wife hit her with a bat and threatened her with a gun. She and a co-worker were forced into the trunk of a car, and were freed only after it crashed while the police chased the couple.
Sells said she has been unable to work since the attack and, without money she and her husband have been living separately with relatives.
“I fought enough that day for my life,” Sells said. “Why am I having to fight to have money to live off of?”
Shelly Daugherty Ratliff and Edward Junior Ratliff pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.
Edward Ratliff, 34, was sentenced to at least 37 years in prison and his 31-year-old wife was sentenced to at least 30 1/2 years.
Sells, 27, filed a claim for workers’ compensation. But Glass Pro and its insurance company, The Hartford, denied it.
Sells said it’s because the companies believe the attack was personal, motivated by Shelly Daugherty’s belief that her husband and Sells were having an affair.
She denies having an affair, and the attorney who prosecuted the couple, former Guilford assistant district attorney Julia Hejazi, said there was no evidence of that.
A spokesman for The Hartford, based in Connecticut, declined to comment.
The motive behind an assault at work is key in whether an employee can win a worker’s compensation claim. State law says that assaults based on personal issues don’t suffice, said Scott Galiger, a Greensboro worker’s compensation lawyer.
Sells’ lawyer, Samantha Clark Aktug, said her client wants payment for her medical costs, as well as money for lost wages since the attack.
Clark Aktug said Sells declined a settlement offer. Her co-worker accepted.
The state Industrial Commission will ultimately decide the case. A hearing before a deputy commissioner was held in September, but both sides are still collecting testimony and a decision could be months away.