Case name: Ruiz v. City of New Orleans, No. 12-CA-405 (La. Ct. App. 01/16/13).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a police sergeant was not in the course of employment when he fell in the stairwell of the department's headquarters.
What it means: In Louisiana, an accident occurs in the course of employment when the worker is injured while actively engaged in the performance of his duties during work hours on the employer's premises or at other places where employment activities take the worker.
Summary: A police sergeant for a city police department was assigned to work in a division that was located away from the department's headquarters. With his supervisor's permission, he drove to the department's headquarters to withdraw cash from his credit union. As he was leaving, he slipped and fell in the stairwell of the department's headquarters. The sergeant suffered injuries to his back, neck, head, and leg. The city refused to pay workers' compensation benefits, denying that he was injured in the course and scope of his employment. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that the sergeant was not entitled to benefits.
The sergeant argued that he was in the course of employment because he had completed his errand at the department's other work site and was returning to work. The court disagreed, pointing out that the department headquarters was not the sergeant's assigned work site. He was on a personal errand with his supervisor's permission, but he was not instructed to travel from his work site to the department's headquarters. His errand, to withdraw money from his personal bank account, was not employment-related. The court found he was not on a special mission.
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May 6, 2013
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