Case of Gateley

613 N.E.2d 918, 415 Mass. 397 (1993)

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Case of Gateley

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
613 N.E.2d 918, 415 Mass. 397 (1993)

Facts

Joseph Gateley (plaintiff) was employed by Construction Collaborative, Inc. (defendant) as a roofing mechanic. On December 31, 1987, Gateley worked on the roof of an office building at a complex. Because it was New Year’s Eve and work ended early, the paychecks did not arrive on schedule. After work, Gateley remained on the roadway with his coworkers to wait for their paychecks. One of Gateley’s coworkers threw a football around. Gateley left and went to the parking garage to observe the method of construction in the structure. Gateley did not see signs prohibiting him from entering the garage, nor was he instructed by his employer to stay out of there. When Gateley reached the upper level of the garage, another coworker followed him and threw the football toward him. Gateley ran to catch the ball, but he slipped on a patch of ice and injured his ankle. On January 20, 1988, Gateley filed a workers’-compensation claim against Construction Collaborative and its insurer, Wausau Insurance Company (Wausau) (defendants). An administrative-law judge (ALJ) awarded temporary total-disability benefits in April 1988. Wausau appealed. After a hearing, the same ALJ denied and dismissed Gateley’s claim, finding his injury was not compensable. Gateley appealed to the reviewing board of the Department of Industrial Accidents. Two board members affirmed the ALJ’s decision, finding that statutory law precluded recovery for injuries sustained while voluntarily participating in recreational activities. Gateley appealed to the full panel of the appeals court, arguing his activity was incidental to his employment. The matter was transferred to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court by its own motion.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lynch, J.)

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