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Corporate officer denied comp benefits


CHEYENNE, Wyo.--Workers compensation coverage is not available for corporate officers when their corporations do not have employees, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled 4-1 on Friday.

The case of Mark D. Jenkins vs. State of Wyoming involved a contract writer for Outside magazine. He injured his wrist in October 2004 while on a rock climbing retreat for Outside's staff, court records show.

Previously, Mr. Jenkins formed a corporation on the advice of a tax preparer. He and his wife were listed as corporate officers, and the corporation had no other employees, the records indicate.

Mr. Jenkins had also purchased workers compensation coverage in 2002.

After injuring himself during the 2004 rock climbing retreat, Mr. Jenkins filed a claim. But the Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Division contested the claim, stating that corporate officers could not obtain coverage when noncorporate officer employees did not exist.

A hearing examiner granted Mr. Jenkins benefits. But an appeals court reversed and found that under Wyoming's Workers' Compensation Act, the division's assessment was correct.

The Supreme Court majority upheld the ruling. But Justice Marilyn S. Kite disagreed, saying that under Wyoming law Mr. Jenkins was entitled to coverage as an officer of a corporation that had purchased workers comp insurance.