WORKERS COMPENSATION CASE WATCH
In Morres v. Earth Treks Crystal City Climb, the claimant worked at a recreational climbing gym. The employer required employees to clock in before their shifts and prohibited employees from performing personal climbs while on the clock. Before clocking in for her shift, the claimant did a warm-up climb, which she said was in preparation for performing rope maintenance. She climbed with another co-worker, who was not scheduled to work that day. During her warm-up climb, she took a practice fall. She was injured in the fall.
The Deputy Commissioner found that the claimant was engaged in personal, recreational rock-climbing and was not in the course of her employment when the injury occurred. On Review, the full Commission agreed, stating “…we do not find whatever ephemeral benefit the employer might receive from the claimant sharpening her climbing skills sufficient to bring the claimant within the course and scope of her employment.”
The Commission went on to say “The evidence also does not preponderate to show the claimant’s purely recreational climbing prior to her work shift benefited the employer beyond the intangible value of improving employee health and morale….Indeed since…most jobs require some level of skill, a holding that an employee is within the course of their employment when engaged in an activity that hones that skill necessarily expands the concept of ‘in the course of’ to a point of meaninglessness.”
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Jessica Hacker Trivizas is a litigator who focuses her practice on workers’ compensation, defending employers and carriers at the trial and appellate levels. She works with insurance carriers, third-party administrators, and self-insureds. Jessica worked on some of the largest settlements in the country, including the historic NFL Concussion Settlement Program, the BP Oil Spill settlement, and the Reglan/MCP Settlement Program. Her background on these mass claims resolution programs gives her unique insight into the work of claims adjusters.