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Feb 07

Workers’ Comp Given for Actor’s Custom Warm-Up


(CN) – A theater actress is entitled to workers’ compensation after literally breaking a leg while warming up for a show, a New York appeals court ruled.
Susan Bigelow signed on to appear in a pair of musicals at Gateway Playhouse in the summer of 2008 and stayed in the Bellport, N.Y., theater’s temporary housing.
One of the ways Bigelow warmed up for a show was by riding her bicycle. But as she rode one day, she swerved to avoid a car and fell off her bike, unfortunately fulfilling the pre-show call to “break a leg.”
The Workers’ Compensation Board granted her benefits, but the theater appealed the decision, arguing that she was not on the job when she was hurt.
The plaintiff and the theater’s manager agreed that performers need to warm up before a show physically, as well as vocally.
Bigelow testified that noise restrictions in the boarding house prohibited her from warming up in the theater boarding house. She also said the rehearsal studio was too small for several performers to work out at the same time.
Therefore, she said, she would warm up her voice and ride her bike at the same time.
Justice Michael Kavanagh, writing of behalf of the state Supreme Court’s third appellate department in Albany, agreed that Bigelow is entitled to workers’ compensation.
“Under these circumstances, we see no basis upon which to disturb the board’s decision that claimant was engaged in reasonable and work-related activity when she was injured,” Kavanagh wrote

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