Reed v. LCS Corrections Services, LLC, No. 10-866 (La. Ct. App. 02/02/11).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a widow was not entitled to benefits. Her husband, a pilot, was an independent contractor and the manual labor exception did not apply.
What it means: In Louisiana, the act of piloting a plane is not manual labor and does not bring an independent contractor's injury within the workers' compensation arena.
Summary: An airplane pilot was killed in a plane crash. He was often the pilot of a leased plane for a consulting company. He billed the company a flat hourly rate for his services. The company issued him a 1099 at the end of the year. The pilot's widow filed a workers' compensation death benefit claim against the company. The parties agreed that the pilot was an independent contractor. The widow argued that the manual labor exception applied. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that the widow was not entitled to benefits.
The widow analogized her husband's position to that of a driver of a vehicle. She argued that the physically engaging aspects of driving a vehicle are present when piloting a plane. She said that pilots are also physically engaged before the engine is turned on because they must perform a pre-flight inspection of the plane.
The company argued that the manual labor exception did not apply because the pilot did not spend a substantial part of his work time performing manual labor. He did not load or unload passengers or luggage, and he did not fuel or maintain the plane. Additionally, the company pointed out that according to a statutory amendment, operating a truck or tractor-trailer is not manual labor.
The court agreed with the company, stating that it did not recognize that the physical act of driving is manual labor. The court found that the pilot was not required to do any manual labor as a part of his job.
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March 21, 2011
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