RALEIGH — The N.C. Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that a former Robeson County principal is due worker’s compensation from the school system because he was shot while on the job.
The Public Schools of Robeson County in August appealed a decision by the Industrial Commission requiring the school system to pay James Hunt workers compensation and all medical bills incurred after he was shot in the face while driving to work in 2009. The commission had upheld the ruling of a deputy commissioner in March 2010.
The Court of Appeals sided unanimously with Hunt.
Hunt was shot in the face while driving to work on April 9, 2009. He told investigators that a pickup truck pulled up beside him and someone with a shotgun shot him in the face and hand. He’s undergone multiple facial reconstruction surgeries as well as speech therapy and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The school system has argued that the shooting was not work-related.
According to the ruling filed Tuesday, Hunt was on a school-issued cell phone discussing school issues with an employee when he was shot.
Additionally, Hunt believes the shooting was related to his job as principal, including his efforts against gangs in his school. According to the document, Hunt was active in the community and had held an anti-gang rally at the school shortly before he was shot.
The Industrial Commission had ordered the school system to pay Hunt $781 per week for every week he has been out of work since the shooting, in addition to his medical expenses. Twenty-five percent of the payment would be deducted for lawyer fees, according to the document.
“I knew this was gonna be the outcome from the very beginning,” Hunt said this morning. “I knew we had a solid case, so I knew the outcome would be favorable in the end. I just didn’t realize it was gonna take this long.”
The school system could appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
Monday will be the three-year anniversary of the shooting.
“For me, three is a special number,” Hunt said. “We’ve moved in threes: it’s been three decisions; Father, son, holy ghost, I am a minister; when I was a kid, three strikes and you’re out. … I’m looking for closure to find out what happened, and I will not stop.”
The case is unsolved. A $9,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.