Union County Superior Court Judge James Wilson threw out a lawsuit brought by a firefighter who suffered injuries after he sat on a firehouse toilet.
On Nov. 27, 2015, Raymond Johns sat down on a toilet while he was on duty at the firehouse and felt an explosion beneath him. He then found a lot of blood coming from the left side of his scrotum and a small firework in the toilet.
Johns was later diagnosed with a second-degree burn to his scrotum and a contusion to his left testicle. When he went back to work, he didn’t suffer any lost wages and Linden paid his medical expenses.
A few months later, Johns filed a lawsuit against the city and firefighter Thomas Wengerter, whom Johns thinks was behind the prank.
Wengerter denied placing the firework on the toilet, even though he was suspended for a week. He did, however, admit that these fireworks were placed throughout the firehouse.
“This is something that has been done in the past to lighten the mood and help guys have some fun with each other,” he wrote, continuing “I am truly sorry that someone may have been injured as a result of this type of horseplay. This incident has made me realize how lucky we have been in the past with jokes we play on each other and how we must avoid this behavior in the future.”
Judge Wilson decided to dismiss Johns’ lawsuit because his claim was already covered by the state’s Workmen’s Compensation Law. He also ruled that Wengerter’s conduct wasn’t an intentional wrong and there was no genuine dispute whether he wanted to hurt someone.
According to state law, injuries caused by co-workers’ pranks are covered by Workmen’s Compensation Law.
“Johns produced no evidence that Wengerter’s placement of the bang snap on the toilet was anything other than an ill-conceived prank,” the appellate court wrote in its 10-page decision. “The placement of a bang snap on a men’s room toilet falls within the realm of coworker horseplay intended to startle, but not injure, a coworker despite the unintended result.”
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