Can I Sue for an April Fools’ Prank Gone Wrong?

photo of April 1st on calendar

Can I Sue for an April Fools’ Prank Gone Wrong?

It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. If you’ve been injured in an April Fools’ Day prank gone wrong, you may be entitled to compensation. Unsurprisingly, there exists a long list of moments when pranks haven’t led to the intended consequences.

Some notable April Fool’s Day pranks that have resulted in injuries and litigation include:

  • Intel Employee Sues Over ‘Kick Me’ Sign:
    • An employee at Intel was the butt of a prank when coworkers stuck a “Kick Me” sign to his back. However, it didn’t stop there. His coworkers actually kicked him, laughing hysterically. The employee went to a senior staff member and asked if he had a sign on his back. At the urging of another staff member, the man kicked him, three times. Hard. The employee filed a lawsuit against the company. The senior staffer and another employee were convicted of misdemeanor battery and were fired.
  • Former Ontario Employee Collapsed After Workplace Prank
    • A colleague thought it would be funny to interrupt an employee’s holiday to say a major report he was working on was due early. The victim was very diligent and immediately cut his trip short. However, when considering the enormity of the task he faced, he became so stressed he started having heart palpations and collapsed. The victim took time off work. He then sued his former employer for damages. The city now has a by-law prohibiting practical jokes at work.
  • A Body Shop Repair Worker Sets Coworker on Fire:
    • Graham v Commercial Bodyworks Ltd (Court of Appeal)
    • Two workers in a bodywork repair shop were joking around when the joke took a turn for the worst. One worker set fire to the other with a cigarette lighter and flammable thinning agent, causing serious injury. The worker who was injured claimed that his employer was liable to compensate him for the injuries caused by the perpetrator’s actions. The court of appeal reviewed the case law on employer liability for employee’s acts of violence and concluded that “frolicsome but reckless conduct” cannot normally be said to have occurred in the course of employment. In other words, it was inappropriate to impose liability on the employer in this case.
  • Former Hooters Waitress Settles “Toy Yoda” Lawsuit:
    • A Hooters restaurant in Florida wanted to improve beer sales, so they ran a contest. The waitress who sold the most beer in a month would win a Toyota. The owner indicated that it might be a car, truck, or van. At the end of the month, the winning waitress was escorted to the parking lot, blindfolded, to receive her prize. When the blindfold was lifted, she saw a Toy Yoda – a Star Wars character doll. The manager claimed it was all an April Fools joke. The waitress later quit and sued the owner for breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation. She later settled for a confidential amount, which her attorney said would allow her to purchase any Toyota she wanted.

Being injured is no joke. April Fool's Day can be filled with laughter and merriment, but it's also wise to be aware of the risks you face both as a prank player and as a victim. Workplaces have a responsibility to foster a safe work environment for employees, including protection from injuries caused by pranks.

If you have sustained serious injuries or missed time off work due to a personal injury from an April Fool’s Day prank, contact Basch & Keegan Personal Injury Law Firm for a free consultation.

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