A Connecticut appeals court ruled Tuesday that a municipal worker cleaning up fireworks debris who intentionally ignited the wick of a live explosive was not within the scope of his employment when he suffered a serious hand injury.
The worker testified that he thought the unlit firework was a “smoke bomb” and that he intended to light it and throw it across the road, according to Bassett v. Town of East Haven et al., was filed with the Connecticut Court of Appeals on Tuesday. The incident occurred in July 2018.
The sphere “immediately . . . exploded while he was holding it,” resulting in “catastrophic, life-altering amputation injuries to his left hand,”; court documents state.
The worker, an adult supervisor for a program that employed teenagers, said he lit the fireworks because he didn’t want them to hurt the younger workers. He also testified that prior to the incident “he had never come across fireworks while supervising the program and that he had ‘not been instructed on what to do if he came across any,’ although he had been instructed to call the fire department if he found needles or syringes.”
The Town of East Haven denied his workers’ compensation claim, arguing that his “injuries did not arise out of his employment.”
The Court of Appeals, affirming earlier rulings by the Compensation Review Board and the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner for the Third District, held that both “reasonably support the finding of fact that the plaintiff’s injuries did not arise out of his employment. The commissioner found that the act of “cleaning up the debris from the ground was within the scope of (the plaintiff’s ) duties,” but the act of “lighting the wick of the sphere was not within the scope of (the plaintiff’s) duties.'”