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MO Workers Comp: Injuries While Playing Basketball on Break found Compensable

In Gruender v. University of MO (September 2017), the Commission held that claimant’s injuries that occurred while on a break – — WHILE PLAYING BASKETBALL, are compensable. Why? Two reasons:

1. She was injured during a paid break, and

2. She was wearing NON-SLIP SHOES (insert joke here) required by the employer, and since she slipped while playing basketball while wearing mandatory non-slip shoes, the risk of injury came from a condition of her employment.

Because of the imprecise wording of the voluntary recreational activity defense under Section 287.120.7, this decision will likely stand on appeal.

Under Section 287.120.7, injuries that occur during a voluntary recreational activity are not compensable, unless the employee was paid wages while participating in such recreational activity. Since the claimant in Gruender was on a paid break, her injuries are considered to be compensable even though she was injured while playing basketball.

I am on the drafting committee for Workers Compensation reform legislation for 2018, and we are drafting a bill that address some of these egregious decisions. Also, Governor Greitens will be replacing all members of the Industrial Commission over the next year. I don’t see any meaningful change at the Industrial Commission until new Commissioners are appointed.

If you have any questions about how this decision might impact any current situation you are handling, please feel free to call or email.