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Lemmerman v. A.T. Williams Oil Co - 318 N.C. 577, 350 S.E.2d 83 (1986)

Rule:

The Workmen's Compensation Act specifically includes within its provisions illegally employed minors. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-2(2) (1985).

Facts:

Plaintiffs, employee and child filed an action for damages after the child suffered an injury while performing jobs in the employer’s property. The trial court held that that action fell under the Workmen’s Compensation Act because there was ample evidence to support the finding that the child was an employee because the employer's manager hired him to do odd jobs as needed for the employer, the jobs that the child performed were in the course of the employer's business, and that the child was paid for his services. The trial judge dismissed plaintiffs' action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, which meant that the Industrial Commission accordingly had exclusive jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claim. On appeal, the judgment of the trial court was affirmed. Plaintiffs sought further review.

Issue:

Was plaintiff injured minor, who performed certain tasks while he accompanied his mother at defendant employer, considered an employee under the state Workmen’s Compensation Act?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court affirmed the judgment. The appellate court correctly affirmed the trial court's conclusion that plaintiff Shane Tucker was an employee of defendant oil company at the time of his death. The Court noted that the deceased minor's services had been "necessary to the proper and efficient distribution" of defendant's products.  The trial judge found that Schneiderman had hired the child, that he had authority to hire and fire employees for defendant, and that the jobs that Shane did were in the course of defendant's business and that he was engaged in doing them when he fell. The Court believed that these facts, taken together, supported the conclusion that the plaintiff Shane was an employee of defendant at the time of the accident.

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