PERSONNEL MATTERS: Traveling employee slips on dance floor, wins comp appeal

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(Crain News Service photo)

Crain News Service report

CHICAGO (May 7, 2014) — A traveling employee who slipped while dancing at a nightclub and injured his pelvis should receive workers' compensation benefits, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has ruled.

Court records show Dallas E. Gravette worked as an audio visual technician for Visual Aids Electronics Corp., which provides audiovisual rental and staging services to hotels, resorts and convention and conference facilities. The Germantown, Md.-based company asked Mr. Gravette to travel from his home in Idaho to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., for work in July 2011.

He was injured around midnight on July 10 when he slipped and fell while dancing at the Pose Ultra Lounge & Nightclub located on the resort’s premises, records show. There was no indication Mr. Gravette was intoxicated at that time.

The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Prince George’s County, Maryland Circuit Court rejected Mr. Gravette’s request for workers comp benefits. A trial judge for the circuit court found that, unlike eating and bathing, dancing at a nightclub wasn’t “reasonably incidental to the travel required by the employer,” according to records.

However, a three-judge panel of the Maryland Special Court of Appeals unanimously reversed that ruling April 29. They noted similar cases in which injuries suffered during “reasonable and foreseeable” recreational activities were deemed compensable.

Because Mr. Gravette’s dancing took place on the premises of his hotel, and it was not considered to be dangerous or out of the ordinary, the appeals court ruled he’s entitled to benefits. The lower court’s judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded to the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission.

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This report appeared on businessinsurance.com, the website of Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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