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No comp for ‘cable guy’ robbed by customer

It’s not easy being known as “the cable guy.”

That’s what people called Frank James Moorefield Jr., whose job was collecting unpaid cable bills or removing equipment from low-income apartments in Danville.

People were not happy to see Moorefield, not when he made his initial “soft call” to say pay up or else get your box cut off, and not when he had to disconnect their cable.

Collecting the cash was not easy, and collecting workers’ comp after Moorefield was assaulted on the job was even harder.

In testimony before the deputy commissioner, Moorefield said he was paid in cash about 90 percent of the time, when he was paid, and that he kept the cash in his front pocket. He sometimes made change from that stash, and could have as much as $1,000 at a time.

On March 20, 2008, he noticed two men at the apartment complex, one of them familiar as a past no-pay customer. After Moorefield made contact with another resident whose cable had to be turned off, he was assaulted by the two men – hit in the face with a pipe or pistol, and then kicked in the head when he fell to the ground. When police arrived, Moorefield realized his personal wallet was missing.

Moorefield testified he did not have a uniform or company vehicle, and that his assailants did not take any money or equipment belonging to Comcast.

Despite the setting, Moorefield’s assault was not work-related, according to the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

He argued the assault occurred on the job because people knew him as “the cable guy” and knew he carried a lot of cash. He likened his case to that of an investment company employee robbed while making a bank deposit, who collected workers’ comp under Virginia law.

But the commission said Moorefield did not show his particular assailants knew he had any cash that day.

In his previous meeting with one of the men, Moorefield “disconnected his cable and did not receive payment or make change from the employer’s money,” wrote Commission Chairman William L. Dudley in his Feb. 15 opinion.

The men who jumped him did not try to take anything from his front pocket or follow him to his truck and try to steal tools or the vehicle itself.

“The evidence does not allow us to assume or presume that a low-income apartment complex, in and of itself, enhances a risk of assault,” Dudley wrote.
By Deborah Elkins

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