A South Carolina man who shattered two leg bones during a company kickball game is entitled to workers' compensation benefits because he was required to attend the event as part of his job, the state's Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.
Stephen Whigham, who worked for a marketing and public relations firm, had attended meetings with managers who discussed the importance of team-building events, the court ruling said.
He suggested a kickball game and his boss approved the idea, authorizing $440 for the event that included T-shirts, drinks and snacks.
On the last play of the game, Whigham shattered his tibia and fibula and was taken away in an ambulance. He will soon need a knee replacement, according to the court ruling.
In their opinion, which reversed a lower court ruling denying the benefits claim, South Carolina justices cited testimony from Whigham's boss. He said at a hearing that it would have been “unexpected and unbelievable” if Whigham had failed to attend the game.
“I mean, you don't just plan something and then not show up for it," the boss said.
But in a dissenting opinion, one justice noted Whigham had testified that he was never expressly required to attend the game. “There was never an ultimatum given to anybody,” Whigham testified, according to the ruling.
The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered a hearing to determine the amount of Whigham's benefits for the injury.
(Reporting by David Beasley in Atlanta; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Mohammad Zargham)