Flavorland Industries, Inc. v. Schumacker
Washington Court of Appeals
647 P.2d 1062, 32 Wash. App. 428 (1982)
Ervin Schumacker (plaintiff) worked for Flavorland Industries, Inc. (Flavorland) (defendant) as the assistant manager of a meat-packing plant in Toppenish, Washington. As part of his job, Schumacker had long attended a weekly livestock auction and socialized with local livestock buyers and sellers afterward at the Squeeze Inn, a restaurant and bar in Zillah, Washington. Flavorland expected Schumacker to socialize and pay for the dinners and drinks of others, providing Schumacker with an expense account to do so. Flavorland also provided Schumacker with a company car. One night, Schumacker drank more than usual. After leaving the Squeeze Inn, Schumacker struck the bumper of a parked truck. Schumacker did not stop but continued driving slowly through town. When Schumacker reached the highway that led to Toppenish, where Schumacker lived, he began speeding, drove off the road, and was killed. Schumacker’s widow, Mrs. Schumacker, filed a claim for workers’-compensation death benefits. The Department of Labor & Industries (DLI) denied the claim. Mrs. Schumacker appealed, and the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals allowed her claim. Flavorland appealed. Following trial, a jury determined that Schumacker was acting within the scope of his employment. In a special-verdict form, the jurors found that Schumacker had been intoxicated at the time of his death, Schumacker had become intoxicated during the course of his employment, and Schumacker’s intoxication was a proximate cause of his death. The trial judge granted Flavorland’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, holding that Schumacker was not acting within the scope of his employment. The court found that there was insufficient evidence to establish Schumacker was returning home, Schumacker’s failure to stop after hitting the truck was an attempt to evade apprehension and the remainder of Schumacker’s drive became a purely personal act, and Schumacker’s degree of intoxication made his acts outside the scope of his employment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (McInturff, C.J.)
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