Tuesday, May 15, 2007, 3:55 PM

The Horseplay Defense

The award for the weird case of the day goes to this unpublished case. The issue in the case was whether a temporary staffing agency (Staffmark) was liable to a lumber company (Briggs) for workers' comp payments made by Briggs for an employee injured by a temp sent by Staffmark.

Staffmark assigned a temp, Richardson, to Briggs to work as a material handler. One day, after his shift ended, Richardson walked toward the breakroom behind employee Laynoina Baker. Richardson jumped onto Baker's back and put him in a "hold" for several minutes. When Richardson finally released the hold, Baker fell to the ground and suffered a broken wrist, requiring the payment of medical benefits under a workers' comp policy.

Staffmark had signed an indemnification agreement with Briggs which required Staffmark to indemnify Briggs for any claims arising from acts of temps "in the course of their employment."

Staffmark argued that Richardson was not acting in the course of his employment but instead was merely engaging in "horseplay" when he jumped Baker and put him in a hold for several minutes.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the horseplay defense. Thus, Staffmark had no duty to indemnify Briggs.

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