Case name: Peterson Hunting v. Labor Commission, No. 20100577-CA (Utah Ct. App. 01/20/12).
Ruling: The Utah Court of Appeals held that an employer was not an agricultural employer and was therefore liable for a guide's benefits.
What it means: In Utah, an employer is not considered an agricultural employer if his operations do not include feeding, harvesting, or management of wildlife.
Summary: A hunting guide was injured when a hunter accidentally shot him near his ankle. He underwent two surgeries and had to have his right leg amputated below the knee. He sought workers' compensation benefits. The employer argued that he was exempt from providing workers' compensation because he was an agricultural employer. The land used for hunting was also used as a range for the landowner's cattle. The Utah Court of Appeals held that the employer was liable for the guide's benefits.
The employer argued that his operations included the feeding of wildlife and cattle. The employer said that he and his employees constructed a water line to water troughs and distributed salt licks. Evidence showed that the water troughs were built for the mules and horses used in hunting operations and that any benefit to cattle and the wildlife was "ancillary." The salt licks were used as a lure to gather the elk and deer in a known location as a convenience for hunting. The guide said that he did not do anything for the cattle while working.
The court also rejected the employer's argument that he was involved in the management of wildlife. The employer and his guides never required hunters to shoot any particular animal to allow for selective breeding. Also, biologists working for the state determined how many deer and elk tags could be sold. The court pointed out that there was no indication that the guide performed services intended to do anything other than guide recreational hunters. Therefore, the employer was not exempt from compliance with the workers' compensation law.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
March 8, 2012
Copyright 2012© LRP Publications