Roller-Dick v. CentraCare Health System

Roller-Dick v. CentraCare Health System, WCCA No. WC17-6051 (October 19, 2017).

The employee worked as a payor relations specialist on the second floor of the employer’s office building. At the end of her shift on January 7, 2016, she was using a stairway to go down to the first floor to exit the building. The employee was using both hands to carry a plant and also had a purse hanging from her elbow while she descended the stairs. She slipped on the second step of about 10, fell to the bottom of the flight of stairs, and fractured her ankle. The stairs had handrails on both sides and a rubber floor covering over the stairs. The employee testified that she was wearing rubber soled shoes and she thought that the rubber on her shoe stuck to the rubber on the stairs and that caused her to fall.

The Compensation Judge denied the employee’s claim finding that the employee’s injury did not arise out of her employment because the employee failed to establish a risk on the employer’s stairs that was greater than “she would face in her everyday life.” The employee appealed and the WCCA reversed the Compensation Judge’s Finding. In doing so, the WCCA noted that the Compensation Judge did not use the correct test. The WCCA indicated that “[b]ecause the injury occurred on the employer’s premises, the question is whether, on these facts, the employee encountered an increased risk of injury from a hazard which originated on the employer’s premises.”

The WCCA held that the employee is not required to show that there was “something about” the stairway that further increased a risk because a “flight of stairs alone increases the risk of injury” and an injury on a stairway also increases the “severity of the injury suffered.” Specifically, the WCCA compared this case to the facts of Hohlt v. Univ. of Minn., 897 N.W.2d 777 (Minn. 2017) wherein the Supreme Court found that an icy sidewalk increases the risk of injury.

So ultimately, the WCCA reversed the Compensation Judge’s denial of the employee’s claim and held that the stairs alone increased this employee’s risk of injury and therefore, that injury arose out of her employment.

This case is currently on appeal to the Supreme Court.