• Kyodo

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The Okayama Branch of the Hiroshima High Court ruled Thursday that 51/2 years of overwork caused the death of a Kurashiki city employee in Okayama Prefecture in 1989, upholding a lower court ruling.

The court’s ruling rejected an appeal by a disaster compensation fund for local government workers against an Okayama District Court decision that the 42-year-old worker’s fatal heart attack was triggered by his duties.

Handing down the ruling, presiding Judge Tetsuo Maekawa said, “Considering the content and nature of his duties comprehensively, the death resulted from his work.”

According to the high court ruling, the worker was on loan from Kurashiki city to Okayama Prefecture for three years from 1984 and designed construction projects to install drainage ditches.

After returning to the city in 1987, he worked continuously on sewer projects.

In November 1989, returning home by car, he complained of chest pains and died of a heart attack.

The district court ruling had said his official duties requiring overtime for about 51/2 years were “closely related to” the heart attack. The lower court also recognized that the man worked past midnight in extreme cases.

The compensation fund had appealed the ruling, saying that atherosclerosis, a common disease in which arteries are hardened, led to the worker’s heart attack and that his duties had nothing to do with it. The man’s wife had sued the fund, demanding it retract its decision not to recognize her husband’s death as a result of his work.

Families are entitled to pensions as compensation from such funds once a worker’s death is recognized as being caused by official duties.

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