Sales rep receives benefits for travel from business dinner to storage unit
Case name: Leordeanu v. American Protection Insurance Co., No. 09-0330 (Tex. 12/03/10).
Ruling: The Texas Supreme Court held that a sales representative was acting within the course and scope of her employment when she was injured in an accident while traveling from a business dinner to a company-provided self-storage unit.
What it means: In Texas, the dual purpose rule will not block compensability if the employee was injured while going to or from work.
Summary: A pharmaceutical sales representative, who worked from home, drove her company car to a restaurant to have dinner with clients. Her route home took her past a company-provided self-storage unit where she kept drug samples and marketing materials. The unit was adjacent to the representative's apartment. The representative intended to stop at the unit and empty her car of business supplies. She also planned to do paperwork at home before retiring for the night. Midway between the restaurant and the storage unit, she ran her car off the highway and was seriously injured. The insurer denied her claim for workers' compensation. The Texas Supreme Court held that the worker was entitled to compensation because she was acting within the course and scope of her employment when the accident occurred.
The court noted that the representative's route from the restaurant to the storage unit was identical to the route home. The dual purpose rule states that "an employee traveling for both business and personal purposes is in the course and scope of employment only if the business purpose is both a necessary and sufficient cause for the travel." Construing the dual purpose rule, the court stated that the representative's travel from her last appointment to the restaurant would have been outside the course and scope of employment if the business dinner had been cancelled and she would have continued to the storage unit and home. The court found this was not a reasonable result.
The court considered the historical development of the coming and going and dual purpose rules. The court held that the dual purpose rule does not cover transportation to and from the place of employment.
A dissenting judge opined that the representative's travel fell under the dual purpose rule and that her injury was not in the course and scope of her employment.
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January 17, 2011
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