Sunday, January 18, 2004
What's this about an atoll? It turns out the employee worked for an exceedingly unfortunate federal contractor running a store catering to American soldiers on Johnson Atoll, which is 700 miles west of Hawaii. The Ninth Circuit concluded that the atoll was so boring and so otherwise devoid of opportunities for entertainment that it was foreseeable that "horseplay of the type" that caused the injury would occur.
Excuse me? How stupid is too stupid for the Ninth Circuit? The plaintiff in this case bet a room full of drinking soldiers that they couldn't "high kick" over his head without hitting him! In the Ninth Circuit, apparently, employers are now required to indemnify their employees for self-inflicted injuries, even when those injuries occur off the clock. Why? Because atolls are boring, so horseplay is expected? Any horseplay? What if the employee decided to play mumbledy-peg with a Ranger's Kbar? Does the boss have to pay for new fingers? Put differently, are employers now de facto insurers of their employees in boring Ninth Circuit locations for all bodily injury? If not, what quality or quantity of stupidity would not be foreseeable, if inviting drunken soldiers to "high kick" at your head does not qualify?
If, in fact, the current economic recovery is "jobless," it is because employers have learned that the costs of hiring are no longer predictable.