Karstad v. Myles Lorentz, Inc.

Karstad v. Myles Lorentz, Inc., No. WC14-5775 (May 20, 2015)

This matter concerned an appeal of the compensation judge’s determination that the employee’s injury occurred outside the course and scope of his employment.

The employee, a truck driver, was laid off at the end the season on October 5, 2012. He anticipated that he may get called back for some temporary work that fall and may be rehired the next spring. After not receiving additional work for approximately three weeks, the employee returned to the truck at employer’s premises to retrieve his personal items, including a CB radio.  While retrieving this radio, he fell and injured his shoulder. The employer and insurer denied primary liability for the injury, and the employee filed a Claim Petition.

At hearing, it was noted that the employee chose to retrieve his radio on that day, because he had travel plans which took him close to the employer’s truck yard. No one from the employer requested that he do so. The compensation judge ruled that his injury did not arise out of and in the course of his employment. The employee appealed.

The facts of the case were undisputed and the WCCA reviewed the case on a de novo basis, extending no deference to the discretion of the compensation judge. Compensable injuries generally “occur within the time and space boundaries of the employment relationship.” Foly v. Honeywell. As the injury occurred three weeks after the employee was laid off, the WCCA concluded that the injury occurred outside the time of employment, so much so that the employee’s activities on that day were not even reasonably incidental to employment.

Next, the court found that the employee’s tools and radio did not interfere with the employer’s business. Consequently, their removal was not done in furtherance of the employer’s interests. Finally, the employer did not exercise any control over the employee’s conduct. Therefore, the compensation judge’s denial of primary liability was affirmed.