Court: Co. Without Employees Not Eligible for Workers' Comp.

March 12, 2007 ( - The Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled that officers of companies without employees cannot get access to workers' compensation coverage.

In a 4-1 ruling involving Outside magazine contract writer Mark Jenkins, the high court upheld a state appellate court decision that, in turn, had upheld a determination by the Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division that corporate officers could not obtain coverage when noncorporate officer employees did not exist.

According to the ruling, Jenkins hurt his wrist in October 2004 while on a rock climbing retreat for Outside’s staff and filed a workers’ compensation claim under a policy he purchased two years earlier for a Wyoming corporation he had set up at the suggestion of his tax adviser. The corporation had no employees and the only officers were Jenkins and his wife, the ruling said.   

The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division contested the claim but a hearing officer granted Jenkins’ coverage request. The appellate court threw out that decision and the most recent Supreme Court holding agreed.

But Justice Marilyn Kite parted from her colleagues in the majority, saying that underWyoming law Jenkins was entitled to coverage as an officer of a corporation that had purchased workers compensation coverage.

According to the ruling, Jenkins’ argument for coverage under was based upon a “dual capacity” theory where coverage for corporate officers is provided for if the corporation had elected coverage and the corporate officer suffered a work-related injury while acting in the capacity of an employee.  

However the state, the appellate court and the Supreme Court argued that the coverage is available for corporate officers only if the corporation employs individuals other than a corporate officer and the corporation elected coverage for its officers.

The full ruling in  Mark Jenkins vs. State of Wyoming is  here .