Worker gets $17,000 check in goose attack

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Worker gets $17,000 check in goose attack

October 3, 2001

BY GARY WISBY ENVIRONMENT REPORTER

Chicago Sun-Times

Nolan Lett collected a check for $17,767.54 Tuesday, the outcome of a wild-goose chase that cost him a fractured wrist.

The money came from his former employer to settle what could be the state's first workers' compensation case ever to involve wildlife, said Lett's attorney, Steven Dyki.

Lett, 57, was a delivery man for Aramark Corp.'s catering division in Oak Brook. He was trying to report to work on Feb. 27, 1998, when two Canada geese blocked his way.

So he went to another door, only to encounter a third goose.

"It started acting crazy," Lett said. "I tried to hurry in the building, but it flew at my face. I tried to fan it off. It was very ferocious."

Lett said he turned to run, but tripped and fell, breaking his wrist.

In preparing for trial, Dyki could find no similar cases. But he did discover a workers' comp case from 1989 involving a security guard who was killed by a stray bullet fired from a public housing development across the street. The guard's employer, the Illinois Institute of Technology, was ordered to pay because the shooting occurred in a high-crime area--subjecting him to a higher risk than that faced by the general public.

Lett also was at higher risk, Dyki said. The setting of the Aramark building "was a 'high-goose' area, as opposed to a high-crime area," he said.

Dyki had an urban-waterfowl expert ready to testify that the area attracted geese by offering short grasses for feeding, a pond for roosting and drinking and good visibility to protect against predators.

Attorneys for Aramark declined to comment on the case.

Bob Hughes, a veteran birder who lives in Uptown, said Canada geese "can get really aggressive when they're protecting their young during nesting season."

But Lett's run-in with a goose occurred in February, when the birds aren't nesting. "That's really strange," Hughes said.

Annoyed geese might charge, flap their wings and bite, "but they can't hurt you," Hughes said. "They don't have teeth."

A publication of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says, "Most of the injuries associated with goose attacks are related to falling, rather than being struck by a wing or being bitten."
 


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