Block v. Fruehauf Trailer Division Fruehauf Corp.

Decision Date04 December 1969
Docket NumberNo. 269A24,269A24
Citation252 N.E.2d 612,146 Ind.App. 70,19 Ind.Dec. 489
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

Glen J. Beams, R. David Boyer and Helmke, Philips & Beams, of counsel, of Fort Wayne, for appellant.

William L. Wilks, Hunt, Suedhoff & Wilks, of Fort Wayne, for appellee.

We are here concerned with the review of a negative award of the Industrial Board of Indiana. The industrial Board, in denying compensation to the claimant appellant, made the following findings:

'That on the 18th day of January, 1968, plaintiff was in the employ of the defendant at an average weekly wage in excess of $85.00; that on said date he sustained personal injury by reason of an accident arising in the course of his employment, but not arising out of his employment; that at the time of said accidental injury the plaintiff and one of his coemployees were involved in horse play; that as a result of his said accidental injury plaintiff became temporarily totally disabled, and is so temporarily totally disabled at this time.'

This finding was based on the following facts:

The evidence most favorable to the appellee established that appellant worked for appellee as a layout man. On the date of the accident in question, appellant was standing at his workbench which was located some 45-feet north of an overhead door. There was an aisle leading directly to the door from appellant's bench. Another employee of appellee approached the appellant from the rear, opened his apron strings causing the strings to loosen and his apron to fall down, and then ran in a southerly direction, down the aisle toward the door. A number of witnesses testified that appellant gave chase, during the course of which he threw his gloves at the 'prankster.' At the end of the aisle, appellant lost his balance while attempting to turn the corner, pitched forward and struck his neck on the overhead door. As a result of the accident, the sixth or seventh vertebra in appellant's neck was broken and dislocated forward causing a partial paralysis.

Appellant applied to the Industrial Board for compensation on April 3, 1968. Appellee, in its first paragraph of answer, denied liability, and in its second paragraph of answer alleged the appellant's injuries resulted from his participation in 'horseplay', and, therefore, did not arise out of or occur in the course of his employment.

A hearing was held before Industrial Board Member Joseph P. Miller, following which a finding was entered for appellee. Appellant then filed his application for review by the Full Board. Following the hearing before the Full Board, the findings set out above were entered and this review followed. The findings made are sufficient and are the only findings required by the Act. 1

Appellant assigned as error 1) that the award is contrary to law; and 2) that the Industrial Board erred in denying appellant's motion to strike appellee's second paragraph of answer.

Specifically, appellant alleges that the award is contrary to law for the following reasons:

1. 'Regardless of whether horseplay is found to have occurred, indiana cases have held that horseplay on the premises where work is performed is the natural condition of employment and therefore an injury to a non-instigating employee arises out of the employment.'

2. 'Defendant has wholly failed to plead and prove a wilful violation of a Rule by Plaintiff as a ground for denial of compensation to Appellant and the Award is erroneously based on a defense which has been waived by reason by (of) such failure.'

Next, appellant alleges that the Industrial Board erred in denying appellant's motion to strike appellee's second paragraph of answer for the following reasons:

1. 'An employer can raise the defense of wilful rule violation only by properly pleading the existence of rule violated and the conduct of the employee in violation thereof.'

2. 'Appellee by failing to file his special defense more than twenty-one days prior to hearing waived the defense.'

We shall first consider the Board's ruling on the motion to strike. We cannot agree with appellant's theory that 'horseplay' could only have been raised as a special defense. The fact is that the burden is on the claimant to establish that the accident arose out of and in the course of his employment. See: Tom Joyce 7 Up Company v. Layman, 112 Ind.App. 369, 375, 44 N.E.2d 998 (1942). In making an award, the Industrial Board has the obligation to determine that the claimant has sustained his burden of proving that an accident occurred in the course of and arising out of his employment. A failure of proof on any one of these elements compels a negative finding by the Board.

The inference arises from the finding of the Board that appellant did not sustain his burden of proving that the accident arose out of his employment for the reason that appellant was engaged in 'horseplay' at the time of the accident. This brings us to the question raised by appellant's first assignment of error: Did the Industrial Board erroneously apply the legal criteria in arriving at the ultimate fact conclusion, that appellant was engaged in 'horseplay' at the time of the accident?

We are not at liberty to weigh the evidence. Achenbach v. Review Bd. of Ind. Emp. Sec. Div., 242 Ind. 655, 660, 179 N.E.2d 873 (1962); Bootz Mfg. Co. v. Review Bd. of Ind. Emp. Sec. Div., Ind.App., 237 N.E.2d 597, 601 (1968), (Transfer denied). Thus, we are only here concerned with appellant's definition of 'horseplay.'

We agree with appellant's definition, above, as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. It is certainly true that one who is the innocent victim of another's prank may be compensated. In re Loper, 64 Ind.App. 571, 574, 116 N.E. 324 (1917); Western Union Tel. Co. v. Owens, 82 Ind.App. 474, 146 N.E. 427 (1925).

It is also true that where the employer has acquiesced in the particular conduct, or 'horseplay', that the employee may be compensated. Kokomo, etc. Wire Co. v. Irick, 80 Ind.App. 610, 141 N.E. 796 (1923); Kunkel, Trustee, etc. v. Arnold, 131 Ind.App. 219, 234, 158 N.E.2d 660 (1960), (Transfer denied). As a corollary to this approach, our courts have held that where 'horseplay' may be expected to occur because of the type of activity the employee is engaged in, i.e., air hose 'gooses', then the employee may be compensated.

However, this court has never gone so far as to say that where the 'horseplay' was not acquiesced in by the employer, not a natural condition of the employment, and where, in fact; the employee participated in the 'horseplay', and was not, therefore, an innocent victim, that the employee should be compensated. To the contrary, we have consistently denied compensation in such cases for the reason that such activity does not arise out of the employment.

In Western Union Tel. Co. v. Owens, supra, this court specifically distinguished the situation where an employer might anticipate 'horseplay' and make appropriate rules to govern such conduct, and the situation where, as in the instant case, there is no connection between the employment and the conduct.

Appellant has pointed out that we are to give liberal construction to the Workmen's Compensation Act. The limits of liberality have already been reached in the 'horseplay' analysis. Once the connection between the employment and the 'horseplay' conduct becomes so tenuous that there is no apparent causal factor, to perfit compensation would be to disregard even the most liberal boundaries of the limitation, 'arising out of and in the course of the employment.'

There was no error in the award of the Industrial Board, and the award, therefore, must be affirmed.

Award of the Full Industrial Board of Indiana affirmed.

LOWDERMILK, P.J., and CARSON and COOPER, JJ., concur.

SHARP, J., concurs in result.

WHITE, J., dissents with opinion, in which dissent PFAFF, C.J., concurs in result.

SULLIVAN, J., dissents with opinion.

SULLIVAN, Judge (dissenting).

I believe the Indiana Supreme Court opinion in Carlton v. Board of Zoning Appeals (1969), Ind., 245 N.E.2d 337, requires a result contrary to that reached by the majority opinion. To this extent, therefore, I agree with Judge White's dissent.

I cannot, however, subscribe to Judge White's desire to resurrect Inland Steel Co. v. Lambert (1917), 66 Ind.App. 246, 118 N.E. 162, which decision was overruled by Empire Health, etc. Ins. Co. v. Purcell (1921), 76 Ind.App. 551, 132 N.E. 664. In my view, the holding that a finding of 'an accident arising out of and in the course of employment' is a finding of ultimate fact, not a conclusion of law, as contained in the latter case, remains cogent, logical and practical. 1

In Judge White's view the Carlton case, supra, requires that the Empire Health decision be overruled and that the Inland Steel precedent be reinstated. His premise, as stated, necessarily depends upon language from Wabash Valley Coach Co. v. Arrow Coach Lines (1950), 228 Ind. 609, 94 N.E.2d 753, as quoted in the Carlton case and in Footnote 10 of Judge White's dissent herein.

I sincerely believe that my learned brother confuses the 'conclusion of law' dealt with in the Wabash Valley Coach case with the conclusion of ultimate fact dealt with in the Carlton case. 2 To be sure, both such conclusions standing alone were insufficient to permit adequate judicial review. Carlton stands for the proposition that neither conclusions of law standing alone, nor conclusions of ultimate fact standing alone will support awards or decisions of quasi-judicial administrative agencies.

In the opinion of this writer this is the only significance which can be read into Carlton's citation of and reliance upon Wabash Valley Coach Co., supra.

Judge White further states that reversal of the board's award is required because conflicts in the evidence make it impossible to 'assume...

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13 cases
  • Fields v. Cummins Employees Federal Credit Union
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • July 6, 1989
    ...of his employment when he engaged in the horseplay which resulted in Rebecca's injuries. See Block v. Fruehauf Trailer Division Fruehauf Corp. (1969), 146 Ind.App. 70, 74 252 N.E.2d 612, 615. Consequently, we must conclude that Powell is not entitled to invoke the immunity granted to those ......
  • Miller v. Barrett
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    • Indiana Appellate Court
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    ...of or in the course of his employment * * *.' Since that 'finding' is so similar to its counterpart in Block v. Fruehauf Trailer Division (Ind.App.1969), 252 N.E.2d 612, 19 Ind.Dec. 489, much of what was said in the dissenting opinion in that case expresses our view of this We concede that ......
  • Transport Motor Express, Inc. v. Smith
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    ...Appellate Court judges began to express the view that specific findings should be required. See Block v. Fruehauf Trailer Division (1969), 146 Ind.App. 70, 252 N.E.2d 612, 19 Ind.Dec. 489; Miller v. Barrett (1971), Ind.App., 269 N.E.2d 772, 25 Ind.Dec. 547. Since the advent of the Court of ......
  • Weldy v. Kline
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    ...found that the injured employee actively participated in the horseplay. As this court stated in Block v. Fruehauf Trailer Division Fruehauf Corp. (1969), 146 Ind.App. 70, 252 N.E.2d 612, 615: Once the connection between the employment and the "horseplay" conduct becomes so tenuous that ther......
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