Delle Donne v. Shiki Japanese Steakhouse of Middletown, No. A-1919-10T1 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 10/18/11, unpublished).
In an unpublished decision, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division held that a president of a corporation was not entitled to benefits for injuries incurred during a motor vehicle accident while he was on his way to work.
What it means:
In New Jersey, the fact that an employer directed a worker to arrive early for a business meeting does not provide a basis for compensability for an injury that occurred while traveling to work.
A president of a corporation that operated a restaurant was injured in a motor vehicle accident on his way to work. He had an early meeting that required him to leave home earlier than his regular time. He controlled his own hours and admitted that he could have held the meeting during regular business hours.
The president sought benefits. The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division held that he was not entitled to benefits.
The president argued that the going and coming rule did not apply because he was injured while acting under the special direction of his employer to arrive early to work. The court found the "special mission" exception did not apply because the president was not required to be away from the restaurant's place of business. He was on his way to his usual workplace. Also, he did not have "identifiable time and space limits on his employment."
The court also declined to find that the president was acting in the course of employment just because he chose to arrive at work early for a special meeting.
The court also rejected the president's argument that the injuries should be compensable because he directed himself to attend the early meeting and therefore faced the heightened risk of a rush-hour accident.
The court said this would render the going and coming rule meaningless since most employers direct employees to work at appointed times. Also, his commute to work was not the direct performance of duties directed by the restaurant.
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December 19, 2011
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