In Grabowski v. Mangler, (Del. Supr., July 9, 2007), read opinion here, the Delaware Supreme Court today issued an opinion that addresses a matter of importance to many businesses: horseplay or practical jokes and the liability that may arise from employees who engage in it. This blog focuses on corporate and commercial law, but even though the topic of this case is not within the traditional confines of that subject area, employee-related issues are among the biggest concerns of many of my business clients (and thus, I trust, will be of great interest to many business lawyers).
For the first time, the Delaware Supreme Court adopted a new test, in this opinion, to determine when a co-employee’s conduct constituted horseplay of such a character that it was outside the course and scope of employment–and therefore, outside the normal rule that such conduct would be within the realm of worker’s compensation. This new Delaware rule is based on the work found in volume 1A of the treatise by Professor Arthur Larson entitled, appropriately enough, The Law of Workmen’s Compensation, at section 23.01 For those interested in this topic, I commend the reading of the court’s analysis and application of Professor Larsen’s test, as made available at the above link.