O’Meara, Leer, Wagner & Kohl Encourage Holiday Cheer, Publish Cautionary Reminder of How to Celebrate Wisely

Share Article

Minneapolis law firm’s article delivers timely holiday message of joyful caution.

News Image
The following cases are examples of holiday-related cases to help illustrate how you can minimize your liability while maximizing your holiday cheer!

One of Minnesota’s top civil litigation firms, the Minneapolis law firm O’Meara, Leer, Wagner & Kohl announced today it has released an article, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” wishing a happy holiday season to all while reminding them that the excitement of celebration sometimes yields accidental injury that become workers compensation issues.

“…while the holiday season is a time to spread great cheer and a festive spirit,” says Managing Shareholder Shamus O’Meara, “it does not come without the potential for increased liability.”

Various Minnesota court cases are cited in the article under seasonal headings, such as “Dashing through the snow,” “In a one horse open sleigh,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “Winter Wonderland,” and the intriguing tale, “A Visit from St. Nic’laus,” about a department store Santa Claus who sustained injuries on break. OLWK care greatly for the well-being of the community at large and wish all to enjoy the many celebrations of the season. With this article they are encouraging the public to enjoy themselves, helping them do so with less risk.

Shareholder, Workers Compensation Group, Chris Celichowski says, “The following cases are examples of holiday-related cases to help illustrate how you can minimize your liability while maximizing your holiday cheer.”

A preview of the article is below, To read the entire article, click on this link to their web site.


The holiday season is upon us and the Workers’ Compensation Practice Group at O’Meara, Leer, Wagner & Kohl wishes you a happy holiday season. We also want to remind you that while the holiday season is a time to spread great cheer and a festive spirit, it does not come without the potential for increased liability. The following cases are examples of holiday-related cases to help illustrate how you can minimize your liability, while maximizing your holiday cheer.!

A Visit From St. Nic’laus:
‘Tis the season of Christmas and all through the land
Workers sustain injuries, the courts understand.
We've seen lots of cases involving yule claims,
But none beat the tale of St. Nick and the flames. (1)

Just two days before Christmas, Augie Kaletha
Worked for Hall Mercantile, a seasonal Santa.
He walked outside and inside the store,
Handing kids candy canes, nuts and much more.

But being a department store holiday Claus
Can make even the heartiest St. Nic’laus seek pause.
The kiddies were loud and some were sure grabby,
And some on his naughty list were even quite crabby.

So this tired and harried faux St. Nick
Thought a cigarette break might just do the trick.
But as he struck the match, to set the cig glow,
His makeshift beard burst into flames, for goodness sake No!

The resulting ill-timed quick conflagration
Led to prolonged work comp litigation.
He burned his face and hands, the poor man claimed,
Which left his power to earn eternally maimed.

Those judicial Scrooges, the Industrial Commission,
Rejected his claim and denied his petition.
They found his brief and heated Lucky enjoyment,
Did not arise out of and in the course of employment.

So, inflamed Santa Claus, sitting twice burned,
Appealed to our High Court, hoping not to be spurned.
So to Holt, to Dibell, to Stone and to Quinn,
And to Wilson(2) he pleaded, hoping to win.

The High Court began its written decision,
With wry prose of cutting derision.
They decreed Kaletha’s intellectual capacity
Must be measured by a yardstick with yielding elasticity! (3)

But despite the lower court's very clear misgiving,
The Supreme Court was much more forgiving.
They ruled his truncated coffin-nail break
Was for his employer’s, as much as his, sake.

Using the now spurned rule of “liberal construction”,
The Chief Justice drew ‘pon his skills of deduction.
The Personal Comfort Doctrine, used in this nation,
Allowed payment of Santa’s work compensation.

Though the High Court’s pithy comments ‘bout smoking,
Nine decades later appear thought-provoking,(4)
They awarded St. Nick comp, for his many miseries,
Then ordered Hall to pay costs, plus 75 dollars in fees.
And he was heard to exclaim, as he disappeared out of sight –
“It’s time for my break, does anyone have a light?”

About O’Meara, Leer, Wagner & Kohl, P.A.
Since its founding in 1973, O’Meara, Leer, Wagner & Kohl, P.A. has achieved a strong national reputation for trial success and its handling of high profile legal matters, and has a deep tradition of community involvement. Based in Minneapolis, the firm of 60 employees and 24 attorneys serves a diverse group of clients from multinational corporations to emerging businesses, local governments and insurance companies. The firm is listed in Best’s Recommended Insurance Attorneys, The Insurance Bar, and by Martindale-Hubbell, Inc. with the highest rating for professional legal ability and faithful adherence to ethical standards, professional reliability and diligence. For more information, call 952-806-0438 or go to: http://www.olwklaw.com.


(1) Kaletha v. Hall Mercantile Co, et al, 196 N.W.261, 157 Minn. 290 (1923).
(2) The Minnesota Supreme Court presiding over the case included Justices Holt, Dibell, Stone, Quinn and Chief Justice Wilson. Chief Justice Wilson wrote the opinion.
(3) "The record shows that the appellant was a single man, 51 years old, and that, in order to bring him up to the average man, intellectually, he must be measured by a yardstick of considerable elasticity." 157 Minn. 292, 196 N.W. at 262.
(4) The Court explained the comforts of smoking. 157 Minn. 294-295, 196 N.W. at 262.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Robb Leer
Visit website