An Ohio restaurant employee may not pursue a negligence action against a co-worker for personal injuries sustained in a golf cart accident that occurred on an island resort where the women, along with other co-workers, attended their employer’s “Kitchen Managers University” [Sims v. Marren, 2015-Ohio–2232, 2015 Ohio App. LEXIS 2148 (June 5, 2015)]. The accident occurred as the plaintiff and others were riding in a golf cart driven by the defendant employee. Heading toward a bar to continue their revelry—most, if not all in the group had already consumed multiple drinks—the defendant apparently made a sudden swerve, causing the cart to turn over, pinning the plaintiff’s leg underneath. The plaintiff suffered a severe ankle break. The plaintiff sued the defendant, among others, claiming defendant’s negligent actions caused injury.
The trial court sustained the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the plaintiff’s injuries arose out of and in the course of the employment. The appellate court affirmed. It noted that the employer had instructed the workers to come to the island resort via a ferry and not to bring their personal vehicles since golf carts were the preferred method of travel at the resort. It also observed that the employer had stocked the meeting facility with food and beverages (including alcoholic beverages) and had provided a daily itinerary that ended with social time “downtown.”
The court held that the undisputed evidence established that the employer not only consented to or acquiesced in the consumption of alcohol and the use of carts to provide transportation between the resort and the bars, it encouraged such conduct. The itineraries supplied to attendees announced “We can’t wait to see all of you and have a kick ass time in the Key West of the North!!!!”.