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A television crew member's injury sustained while downhill skiing on his day off was compensable on the grounds that skiing was a reasonable recreational activity incidental to living, according to the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin.
Richard Kamps was hired to work as a runner by CBS Inc. to cover the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. This required Mr. Kamps to travel and work in Norway from Feb. 6 through Feb. 27, 1994.
On Feb. 21, 1994, CBS gave Mr. Kamps and the rest of the work crew the day off. He was free to do as he wished, as CBS placed no restrictions on his activities. Mr. Kamps and other members of the crew decided to go downhill skiing as a group. CBS provided them with the transportation, as well as free ski lift passes. During the ski outing, Mr. Kamps fell and injured his knee. He filed for and was awarded workers compensation benefits.
On appeal, CBS argued that Mr. Kamps was skiing for his own enjoyment and, thus, had deviated from his employment. CBS said courts never have permitted traveling employees to indulge in risky personal recreation and remain within the scope of their employment.
But the court said "traveling employees have never been required to remain idle...in order to avoid the risk of deviating from their employment."
The court emphasized that activities considered usual and proper include recreation. The court pointed out that Mr. Kamps was in Norway, the site of the Winter Olympics, where downhill skiing was a major venue. "It is not unreasonable," the court observed, "to expect that an employee, during lull time, would ski as a form of recreation." The workers comp award was affirmed.
CBS Inc. vs. Labor and Industrial Review, Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, Sept. 10, 1997 (BI/05/A.-$10).
These abstracts were prepared by Mayo H. Stiegler. Copies of these decisions are available by sending a $10 check payable to Mayo H. Stiegler, to Business Insurance, 740 N. Rush St., Chicago, Ill. 60611-2590. List the number for each opinion.