Deputy Not Entitled To Workers’ Comp When Hit On Head By Golf Ball

Scott Beine was a deputy sheriff for the St. Charles County, Missouri Sheriff’s Department. During his employment, Beine was an active member of the St. Charles County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, a voluntary, non-profit association of sheriff’s deputies whose primary purpose was to raise money for charity and help those in need. Since 2002, the Association’s major annual event was called Shop With A Deputy. To fund this event, the Association sponsored a charity golf tournament at the Whitmoor Country Club.

The Association used most, but not all, of the proceeds from the golf tournament to support the annual shopping event. The County did not participate in either planning or promoting the golf tournament. Participation in the golf tournament was voluntary, and the County required its employees to use compensatory or vacation time to attend the tournament. The County did not permit employees to wear their uniforms or use County vehicles for transportation to the event, at which alcohol was served.

On July 7, 2008, Beine helped set up and then golfed in the Association’s charity golf tournament. While he was playing, a nearby golfer hit a ball, striking Beine in the forehead. An ambulance transported Claimant to the hospital, where a doctor treated him for a forehead laceration and subcutaneous contusion. After the injury, Beine sought treatment from numerous medical professionals for his continuing symptoms, which included tinnitus, poor balance, memory loss, severe and frequent headaches, insomnia, mood swings, and depression. Beine was unable to resume work, and the County terminated Beine’s employment on January 7, 2009.

Beine filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. After a variety of appeals, the case ended up in the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The Court rejected Beine’s claim. The Court concluded that “the uncontested facts show that golfing was not one of Beine’s assigned duties; the County required Beine to use vacation days to participate in the golf tournament; the County did not plan or promote the golf tournament; the County did not receive or control the proceeds of the golf tournament; the County had no right to control or direct Beine’s actions at the golf tournament; and the County and the Association were entirely separate and independent entities. Based on our review, we conclude that there was sufficient competent evidence in the record to support a finding that Beine’s injury resulted from a hazard or risk unrelated to Beine’s employment to which he would have been equally exposed on any golf course in his normal non-employment life.”

Beine v. County of St. Charles, 2011 WL 6046573 (Mo. App. E.D. 2011).