Patterson Harkavy Wins Workers’ Compensation Case for Police Officer in Court of Appeals

In Taylor v. Town of Garner, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Industrial Commission, agreeing that Officer Taylor is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from the Town of Garner for the injury he suffered while working as a mounter officer at an N.C. State football game.  Because Officer Taylor was working pursuant to a mutual aid and assistance agreement between the Town of Garner and N.C. State, Garner remained responsible for his workers’ compensation.  Valerie Johnson and Narendra Ghosh are representing Officer Taylor.

Further analysis from the Court’s Opinion:
The Court summarized its decision:

Where the Garner Police Department and the N.C. State Campus Police Department substantially complied with the requirements of the Agreement pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-288 and it is undisputed that Officer Taylor sustained an injury arising out of and during the course of his employment on 27 October 2007, the Commission did not err by concluding that Town of Garner is responsible for payment of sums due to plaintiff pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 97 of the North Carolina General Statutes.

The Court correctly focused on the intent of the parties and the unchallenged fact that Officer Taylor could not lawfully have worked at N.C. State without being under the mutual aid agreement:

As the Commission correctly found, in order for Officer Taylor to work as a mounted patrol officer at N.C. State, he would have had to have been working pursuant to the Agreement to have any police powers outside of his jurisdiction. Otherwise, his presence would have served no purpose. The Commission’s unchallenged findings of fact establish that the parties clearly intended for Officer Taylor to work the N.C. State football game pursuant to the Agreement.

Although Garner tried to base their argument on how Officer Taylor was paid for his work by N.C. State instead of Garner, the Court rejected this: “unchallenged findings of fact show that the parties mutually agreed to the payment arrangement for Officer Taylor when working mounted patrol at N.C. State football games.”

Because the Legislature clearly intended for law enforcement officers to be protected for purposes of workers’ compensation benefits when acting in this capacity, we hold the parties substantially complied with the requirements of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-288(a) for personnel and administrative purposes. The Commission’s unchallenged findings of fact support the Commission’s conclusion of law that on 27 October 2007 Officer Taylor was working pursuant to the Agreement and that Town of Garner is liable for his compensable injury pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-288.