Only in America: Get high, get mauled by a bear, get workers' comp

Montana's Supreme Court says a park worker mauled by a grizzly should get workers' comp... even though he was trying to feed bears while stoned

Grizzly bears are "equal opportunity maulers," says the Montana Supreme Court that ruled an area man should get workers comp after getting stoned and being attacked in 2007.
(Image credit: CC BY: shannon kringen)

The story: The Montana Supreme Court this week decided that a nature park worker who was mauled by a grizzly bear in 2007 should get workers' compensation — even though he was high on marijuana at the time. The man, Brock Hopkins, admitted he smoked a joint before deciding to feed the animals at Great Bear Adventures, a privately run park where black bears and grizzlies roam outdoors. While Hopkins was in the bear enclosure, a grizzly named Red attacked and severely injured him. His initial workers' compensation claim was denied. The owner of the park, Russ Kilpatrick, said Hopkins doesn't even really work there, but was more of a helper he gave money to "out of his heart." The state Supreme Court disagreed, saying Hopkins was hurt while doing work for Kilpatrick, so he deserved to be compensated for his injuries. Hopkins' altered state, the court said, didn't matter, because grizzlies are "equal-opportunity maulers."

The reaction: "Smoke dope. Feed grizzlies. Get mauled. Collect worker's comp," says Gwen Florio at Cops and Courts. Is this a great country, or what? Well, the Montana Workers' Compensation Court did characterize Hopkins' actions as — in their words — "mind-bogglingly stupid," says Eric Schwartz at the Daily Inter Lake. The justices just decided that "marijuana use was not a major contributing cause of his injuries." Stoned or sober, when it's you vs. a grizzly, the grizzly wins. Every time.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us