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Workers' Compensation

Catherine the Great on The Porcelain Throne…… and The Personal Comfort Doctrine in Delaware

Not since my post on Defecation Syncope (7/27/10) have I had this much fun. One of my personal faves as to claimant’s counsel, Cynthia Pruitt --protecting the rights of workers everywhere to empty their bladders on the job…… and then there is Joe Andrews on the defense, apparently boasting the bladder of a camel….and the scene of the crime, the Porcelain Throne—with a bit of urgency incontinence thrown in (having borne two children, a diagnosis after my own heart). Yep, this one has it all.

Mechanism of injury: Urgent need to use the toilet (hey, we’ve all been there), pulling down her pants, missed the toilet and fell onto her left hip and buttocks. And I have to applaud the work ethic—being a custodian for the employer, the first thing this gal does is grab a bucket and mop and clean up inside the toilet stall. And when she isn’t at work, the employee is a caretaker for her aging mother. I really like this gal.

The defense? When I reads the facts, I am immediately thinking of the personal comfort doctrine, one of those bastion principles of comp law that allows small acts appurtenant to the employment but not directly part of it to be covered—grabbing a cup of coffee, sneaking away for a smoke, using the bathroom, etc. I did say “using the bathroom”, right?

So this case yields a Joan Schneikart compendium of case law (not to be confused with a “Chris Baum cherishable”) for the glaringly obvious proposition that course and scope of employment will include an on-premises and on-the-clock heed of Nature’s call. The case is Catherine Taylor v. Wilmington Friends School, IAB#1417179 (5/13/15).

Irreverently yours,



 Visit Delaware Detour & Frolic, a law blog by Cassandra Roberts


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