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Autoerotic Asphyxiation: N.D. Ill.

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  • Autoerotic Asphyxiation: N.D. Ill.

    There are very few appropriate instances in the work place where one finds himself having a frank discussion about autoerotic asphyxiation with one's boss. Today became such an occasion when Mr. Bax walked into my office with this case. While far from common place, cases like this do have a tendency to pop up in our area of practice, and they present interesting questions for the court to decide.

    In this case from the Northern District of Illinois, the Plaintiff was widowed by the decedent as a result an autoerotic asphyxiation event gone awry. The Plaintiff brought this action seeking payment of Accidental Death and Dismemberment benefits under a plan established by her late husband's employer. The Defendant denied the claim on the basis that the decedent's death was not considered "accidental" under the terms of the policies arguing:

    Although the Medical Examiner determined the manner of death to be “accident,” we must administer the claim in accordance with the terms of the policies. Mr. Llenos’ death is not an “accidental death” as defined in the policies. The self-inflicted injury of intentionally constricting blood flow to the brain distinguishes autoerotic activity from the other avocation examples listed in your letter of appeal. None of the other activities mentioned in your letter (skydiving, motorcycle riding, or sailing) involve intentionally interrupting an essential bodily function.

    The court, however, was unpersuaded by the Defendant's argument and concluded:

    In this case, the Court cannot say that Plaintiff’s loss of consciousness and strangulation were substantially certain to result from his conduct. Although the practice of autoerotic asphyxiation is undoubtedly risky, Plaintiff had engaged (and many others do engage) in the practice without losing consciousness, strangling themselves, or dying. Further, Defendant does not dispute that Llenos’ death was accidental. Since Plaintiff’s loss of consciousness and resultant strangling were the direct cause of his death, Defendant cannot logically argue that these results were substantially certain to result from his conduct, while at the same time conceding that Plaintiff did not intend to kill himself.
    The entire opinion is attached below. I recommend reviewing it at the office as oppose to saving it for some light, evening reading.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Ryan Alderson; 03-06-2018, 04:30 PM.
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