In Taylor v. Town of Garner, a workers’ compensation case, we have filed a brief with the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Officer Taylor is a veteran of the Garner police force who was injured while providing official inter-agency assistance at an N.C. State football game. The primary issue is whether the Town of Garner is solely liable for Officer Taylor’s compensation, or whether both Garner and N.C. State is liable. Garner should be liable because Office Taylor was working at N.C. State pursuant to an official mutual aid and assistance agreement between Garner and N.C. State. Valerie Johnson and Narendra Ghosh of Patterson Harkavy are representing Officer Taylor.
Here is the summary of our argument to the Court:
“As the Industrial Commission concluded, the Town of Garner is solely liable for plaintiff’s compensable injury under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-288 because it occurred during official cooperation between law enforcement agencies, pursuant to a mutual aid agreement. Everyone involved, including Garner’s Chief of Police, understood the necessity of the mutual aid agreement for plaintiff’s law enforcement work at N.C. State, and intended that his work falls under the agreement. Having encouraged the plaintiff to establish the mounted patrol unit and work at N.C. State football games, Garner cannot now reverse course, repudiate its actions, and claim that the plaintiff is not entitled to benefits based on an untenable reading of the mutual aid statute.
In the alternative, if N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-288 does not apply, the Court should conclude that Garner and N.C. State are jointly responsible for plaintiff’s compensable injury as joint employers. Because plaintiff’s injury arose out of and in the course of his employment with both employer-defendants, they are jointly liable for his compensable injury. Under either theory, the plaintiff must be compensated for his workplace injury at the maximum workers’ compensation rate.
Plaintiff, a nineteen-year veteran of the Garner police force, suffered an admittedly compensable injury by accident, but has still not received any benefits almost two years after he returned to work. Garner’s continuing refusal to pay a clearly compensable claim is unconscionable. The Industrial Commission properly rejected Garner’s arguments. This Court should reach the same conclusion.”