Barbara M. Crushshon v. New Am. Hospitality, Inc.

Barbara M. Crushshon v. New Am. Hospitality, Inc., NO. WC16-5936 (W.C.C.A. August 24, 2016)

This case revolves around the marketing director for a small group of hotels.  On August 22, 2014, Ms. Crushshon was walking in the entrance of a hotel over concrete that was shaped or stamped, resembling cobblestone.  Ms. Crushshon testified that her foot felt “stuck” before she tripped and fell, falling forward and striking her arm on a closed door.  Additionally, she told the general manager of the hotel who came to her aid that she had stumbled over a brick.  The Employee sustained a severely commutated fracture in her right arm.  The Employer and Insurer denied liability.  At hearing, the issue before the Compensation Judge was whether the injury arose out of the course of the Employee’s employment.  The Compensation Judge ruled it had and Employer and Insurer appealed.

On appeal, the Employer and Insurer argued that the Employee’s testimony was not credible, citing preexisting knee problems and testimony of the Employer’s owner that the Employee told him her knee problems were the cause of the fall.  However, assessment of witness credibility is a unique function of the Compensation Judge and is generally left undisturbed.  Moreover, the general manager testified that he and others had tripped on those same concrete cobblestones.

The Employer and Insurer also argued that Dykhoff v. Xcel Energy mandates denial of the Employee’s claim.  However, the W.C.C.A. agreed that the concrete cobblestones were a hazard which originated on the premises of the work environment and found that the injury was found to arise out of employment.

The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed without opinion on October 25, 2017.