You Be the Judge

Is Injury En Route to Required Class Compensable?

The employer contended the injured worker was not performing a task of benefit to her employer at the time of the injury.
By: | June 9, 2017

A nurse for University Hospitals was scheduled to attend a cardiopulmonary resuscitation training class offered by UH at its main campus.

CPR certification was required for her continued employment as a nurse, and UH offered the classes to employees free of charge and paid their normal wage while attending classes. The nurse’s supervisor scheduled her for the class.

The nurse arrived at UH’s main campus and parked in the garage she normally used. She went to the room where the class was held.

Once there, she spoke to the instructor, who was also an employee of UH. When the instructor learned that the nurse had left course materials in her car, the nurse was sent back to get them.

The nurse retrieved the materials from her car and was walking back to the building when she fell in a pedestrian crossing in a public street between the parking garage and the work location. She sustained several injuries and sought workers’ compensation benefits.

The Industrial Commission denied the nurse’s claim. The trial court reversed, finding that she was entitled to compensation. UH appealed.

Did the trial court err in determining that the nurse’s injury was compensable?

  • A. No. The nurse had entered the zone of employment when she was injured.
  • B. Yes. UH did not benefit from the nurse’s presence at the CPR class.
  • C. Yes. UH did not maintain control over the public street where the injury occurred.

How the Court Ruled

B is incorrect. UH argued that it did not receive a benefit from the nurse’s attendance at the training class rather than at her normal shift. However, the court found that CPR certification was a requirement for continued employment, and UH offered the classes to employees in order to have a well-trained staff that could better serve its customers.

C is incorrect. The court explained that while UH did not maintain control over the public street where the nurse fell, this was not dispositive. She was sent to her car to retrieve course materials by the training instructor and was injured while walking back to the building.

A is correct. In Rees v. University Hospitals, et al., No. 104848 (Ohio Ct. App. 04/13/17), the Ohio Court of Appeals held that the trial court correctly determined that the nurse’s injury arose out of and occurred in the course and scope of her employment.

The court explained that the nurse was engaged in a task within the scope of her employment because she was instructed to perform a task by the course instructor, who was her “supervisor” during the course.

The court also found a sufficient causal connection between the nurse’s injury and her employment. The court said that the nurse had arrived for work, entered the zone of employment, and was directed back to her car. She was not simply going to or coming from work.

The court found that the nurse’s injury was similar to cases involving workplace errands or special missions because the only reason the nurse returned to her car was because the instructor asked her to retrieve material necessary for the completion of a class required for her continued employment.

Editor’s note: This feature is not intended as instructional material or to replace legal advice.

Christina Lumbreras is a Legal Editor for Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected]

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