Pollock v Girl Scouts of So. Alabama Inc (2015) H&FLR 2015-25

Dana Louise Pollock v Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama Inc (2015) H&FLR 2015-25

Court of Civil Appeals (Alabama)

27 February 2015

Coram: Thompson PJ, Donaldson, Pittman, Thomas and Moore JJ

Appearing for the Plaintiff: Not identified
Appearing for the Defendant: Not identified

Catchwords: Alabama – workers compensation – arising out of employment – in the course of employment – horse riding

Facts: The plaintiff was employed by the defendant as a facility named Camp Scoutshire Woods.  She was  employed as its business manager and assistant to the camp director.  It was customary for the camp’s horse director to arrange a hose ride for staff of the camp at the end of the six week summer camp program.  It was not part of the plaintiff’s duties to take part in this ride, nor was it part of her remuneration, and the defendant did not derive a benefit from it.

When the ride took place on 29 June 2011, the plaintiff’s horse bolted and she fell, sustaining a back injury.  The plaintiff claimed compensation under Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act.  The Act requires that, for an injury to be compensable, it must arise out of and in the course of employment: Ala. Code 1975, §25-5-1(8).  The defendant sought and was granted summary dismissal of the claim on the basis that the injury did not so arise: Pollock v Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama Inc (Mobile Cir. Ct, unknown judge,  18 February 2014, unreported).  The plaintiff appealed.

Held: Per curiam, dismissing the appeal, that –

1. The phrases “arising out of” and “in the course of” in §25-5-1(8) denote two distinct concepts and both must be met to bring a case within the Act.

Ex parte Shelby County Health Care Authority, 850 So. 2d 332 (Ala. 2002), followed.

2. The criteria for determining whether an injury has arisen out of and in the course of employment are not closed.  However, the Court took particular note that –
(a) The ride was voluntary and recreational and unrelated to the plaintiff’s duties as business manager and assistant to the camp director.  Further, it was not naturally related to or incidental to her work.
(b) The defendant derived no benefit from the holding of the ride.
(c) While the defendant permitted the plaintiff to take part in the ride, it did not encourage her to do so.

Young v Mutual Savings Life Insurance Co, 541 So.2d 24 (Ala. Civ. App. 1989); Ex parte Shelby County Health Care Authority, 850 So. 2d 332 (Ala. 2002); Moore’s Case, 330 Mass. 1, 110 NE.2d 764 (1953); Wooten v Roden, 260 Ala. 606, 71 So.2d 802 (1954), followed.

Board of Managers of City of Birmingham Retirement and Relief System v Elliott, 532 So.2d 1019 (Ala. Civ. App. 1998); Ex parte Holton, 886 So.2d 83 (Ala. 2003); Kennedy v.Cochran, 475 So.2d 872 (Ala. Civ. App. 1985), distinguished.

Judgment

The Court’s judgment is available here.

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Heather ad March 2015