BI’s Article search uses Boolean search capabilities. If you are not familiar with these principles, here are some quick tips.

To search specifically for more than one word, put the search term in quotation marks. For example, “workers compensation”. This will limit your search to that combination of words.

To search for a combination of terms, use quotations and the & symbol. For example, “hurricane” & “loss”.

Login Register Subscribe

Employee’s accident during workplace horseplay compensable


A jail worker who broke her ankle while being chased by a co-worker pretending to spray her with bug spray suffered her injury in the scope of work, an appeals court in New Mexico ruled in documents made public Tuesday.

Alleging that “horseplay” is not compensable, the Curry County Adult Detention Center and its insurer New Mexico County Insurance Authority appealed to the Court of Appeals of New Mexico a decision by a state workers compensation judge that found the injury suffered by Amanda Motes to be compensable, according to documents in Amanda Motes v. Curry County Adult Detention Center and NMCIA, filed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Nov. 28, 2018.

Ms. Motes worked an overnight shift as a booking specialist alongside several sergeants in the security detail. The job included much “downtime” in which she and a supervisory sergeant would often engage in “lighthearted” play, which included attempting to draw on one another with marker and pretending to spray each other with bug spray — “horseplay” the employment manual forbid and would subject a worker to disciplinary action, according to documents.

Following the incident in which Ms. Motes tripped while being chased and subsequently lied about what happened, she and the sergeant were fired. She had already filed a workers compensation claim, which the detention center and its insurer denied, using video surveillance as proof.

Following a hearing, which included testimony from eyewitnesses to previous acts of alleged horseplay, the workers compensation judge ruled in favor of the employee, finding that “the injury took place during normal work hours and on Employer's premises, that Cloud had engaged in horseplay with Worker on previous occasions, and that Employer had not counseled either (Sergeant) Cloud or Worker concerning horseplay any time prior to the . . . incident,” according to documents.

The judge added that "Employer did nothing to curtail the repeated horseplay at any time prior to the . . . incident,” documents state.

The employer disputed this, noting it did not have any knowledge of past horseplay, according to the court records.

The appeals court, citing similar cases, affirmed the judge’s ruling on several points including that the horseplay was brief and took place close to Ms. Motes’ work station, writing: “The record here…  reveals that horseplay had become an expected part of the environment, it occurred often during downtime, and any deviation was minor, brief, and incomplete.”

The state Supreme Court denied an appeal on May 1, 2019.

The parties involved and their attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.




Read Next

  • Horseplay liability

    Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. is on the hook for a horseplay injury occurring during a company team-building event, an Ohio appeals court recently decided.