Firefighter scores benefits for injury during basketball game
City of Kenosha v. Labor & Industry Review Commission, No. 2010AP883 (Wis. Ct. App. 03/16/11).
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that a fire captain injured playing basketball while on duty was entitled to benefits.
What it means: In Wisconsin, a firefighter who is injured while engaging in physical activity while on duty and being paid is entitled to benefits.
Summary: A fire captain was on active duty on a 24-hour shift when he was playing basketball with fellow firefighters and members of the public in a city park near the fire station. While reaching for the basketball, he felt a pop in his right arm and experienced pain. The city's fire chief said it was common for firefighters to play basketball during their shifts. He explained that playing basketball was considered "in their quarters" for purposes of their collective bargaining agreement. He also stated that it was important for firefighters to be physically fit. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that the captain was entitled to benefits.
A "well-being activity exception" to workers' compensation exists if the employee is voluntarily engaged in an activity designed to improve his physical well-being and receives no compensation. The court said the exception did not apply because the captain was receiving compensation at the time of his injury.
The court explained that the captain was engaged in the city's business -- providing firefighting capabilities -- at the time of his injury. The court rejected the city's argument that under the exception, the captain would have to be receiving additional compensation for playing basketball.
The court noted that the city's argument would "produce byzantine inquiries and bizarre results." The court failed to understand how the city could pay for a firefighter injured fighting a fire but not pay for a firefighter who works to stay in shape to avoid being injured while fighting a fire. The court said that "it makes no sense."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
April 21, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications