Case name: Johme v. St. John's Mercy Healthcare, No. SC92113 (Mo. 05/29/12).
Ruling: The Missouri Supreme Court held that a representative was not entitled to compensation for her fall at work because her injury did not arise out of and in the course of her employment.
What it means: In Missouri, a worker's injury is deemed to arise out of and in the course of her employment if it did not come from a hazard or risk to which she would have been equally exposed in her normal nonemployment life.
Summary: A billing representative's job involved typing charges at a computer in an office. The employer provided a coffee station for employees. It was customary for the employee who took the last cup of coffee to make another pot of coffee. The representative was injured in a fall after she made a pot of coffee. She was wearing sandals with a thick heel and a flat bottom. There were no irregularities or hazards on the kitchen floor. The representative explained that as she turned to walk back to her desk, her foot fell off of her shoe and she fell. She sought workers' compensation benefits. The Missouri Supreme Court held that she was not entitled to benefits.
The court explained that the focus should not be on whether the representative's activity of making coffee was incidental to her employment. The issue was whether the cause of her injury had a causal connection to her work activity. No evidence showed that she was not equally exposed to the cause of her injury while in her workplace making coffee than she would have been when she was outside of her workplace in her "normal nonemployment life."
A dissenting judge opined that the representative was entitled to benefits because the injury was caused by a work-related risk. The judge said that under the majority's opinion, workers in sedentary jobs "will be barred from obtaining workers' compensation benefits when they are injured while performing many of their work-related tasks."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
July 26, 2012
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