Shunk v. Gulf American Land Corp.
224 So.2d 269 (Fla. 1969)

Facts:

  • Shunk had a real estate license and basically worked as a saleswoman for Gulf American Land Corporation.
  • She would find prospective lot purchasers, solicit them, and then get them on a plane to her employer’s real estate development near Naples, Florida.
  • While soliciting Luther Tanly, they had dinner with a couple others (one being Mr. Keller, Shunk’s supervisor).
  • After dinner ended around 12:30 AM, Shunk went up to Tanly’s room.
    • She testified that this was part of her job – i.e., know where they are staying so that she can wake them up early for the flight.
  • Tanly made improper advances toward her and she tried to get away, falling 25 feet from a window.
  • She filed for workers’ comp.

History:

  • The Judge of Industrial Claims found that in the course and scope of her employment Mrs. Shunk accompanied Mr. Tanly to his apartment to ascertain his room number.
  • The Full Commission reversed.
    • “We feel that the facts clearly show that the claimant had deviated from her employment prior to the accident.“

Issue:
Whether claimant was acting within the course and scope of her employment at the time of her injuries.

Holding:
Yes. Case reversed.

Reasoning:

  • Keller testified by deposition that the duties of the solicitors employed by Gulf American included the following: Finding prospects anywhere, any time, any place they could do so (including restaurants, beaches, motels); obtaining from the prospects their hotel or motel room numbers, telephone numbers, and the responsibility for getting the prospects up early in the mornings to catch the 7:00 A.M. plane.
  • The court held that while the circumstances might create a suspicious inference, the nature of this type of employment appears to warrant this. Thus, in a debatable situation like this the court decided to lean in the claimant’s favor.

Rule: Social activities for sales work are generally considered “part of the job,” therefore entitled to workers’ compensation for injuries.