Case name: Tumolo v. County of Ocean Road Department, No. A-2162-11T1 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 01/11/13, unpublished).
In an unpublished decision, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Decision held that a worker was not entitled to benefits from either of his two employers.
What it means: In New Jersey, the special mission exception to the going and coming rule allows compensation for workers required to be away from the conventional place of employment if engaged in the direct performance of employment duties.
A heavy equipment operator for a county road department also served as fire chief for a borough. The operator drove directly to a department work site from his home instead of following the department policy that required him to report to a garage first. He did this in case he had to leave for an emergency in his fire chief position. His supervisor asked him to report to the garage the next morning. The operator was driving to the garage in his fire chief truck when he was struck by an oncoming vehicle. He suffered significant injuries. The operator sought benefits from the department and the borough. The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division held that he was not entitled to benefits.
The court agreed with the department's assertion that the operator was not on a special mission at the time of his accident but was merely commuting to work. When the operator was told to report to the garage, he was directed to follow the department's standard procedure. The fact that he expected to return to the work site after going to the garage did not change his conventional place of business. The department did not own the work site. Also, he had not yet arrived at the department's place of business to report for work.
The operator also claimed that he was within the line of duty for his fire chief position at the time of the accident. The court explained that he was not performing duties related to his fire chief position at the time of the accident even if he was driving his fire chief truck.
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April 8, 2013
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