Calvo v. Montgomery Cnty., No. 48, Sept. Term, 2017

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtAdkins, J.
Citation459 Md. 315,185 A.3d 146
Docket NumberNo. 48, Sept. Term, 2017
Decision Date21 May 2018
Parties Rina CALVO v. MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Maryland

459 Md. 315
185 A.3d 146

Rina CALVO
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Maryland

No. 48, Sept. Term, 2017

Court of Appeals of Maryland.

May 21, 2018


ARGUED BY Kenneth M. Berman (Natalie E. Whittingham and Lauren B. Pisano, Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, LLP, Gaithersburg, MD), on brief, FOR PETITIONER.

ARGUED BY Wendy Karpel, Associate County Atty. (Kathryn Lloyd, Associate County Atty., Marc P. Hansen, County Atty., John P. Markovs, Deputy County Atty. and Edward B. Lattner, Chief, Division of Government Operations, Rockville, MD), on brief, FOR RESPONDENT.

ARGUED BEFORE: Barbera, C.J. Greene Adkins McDonald Watts Hotten Getty, JJ.

Adkins, J.

459 Md. 320

"Each case involving the going and coming rule and its exceptions must turn on its own particular facts." Alitalia Linee Aeree Italiane v. Tornillo , 329 Md. 40, 46, 617 A.2d 572 (1993). Rina Calvo was injured in a car accident while driving from her home to a mandatory work training on a Saturday—normally her day off. We consider whether the Circuit Court for Montgomery County should have granted summary judgment in judicial review proceedings of an order of the Workers' Compensation Commission ("Commission"). In so doing, we shed light on a complicated and factually-intensive exception

459 Md. 321

to the going and coming rule: the special mission or errand doctrine.

FACTS AND LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

Calvo has been employed by Montgomery County ("County") as a bus driver for approximately 20 years. Her regular work schedule is Monday through Friday, and she is based at the Silver Spring Depot. On May 6, 2015, Calvo received a letter

185 A.3d 150

notifying her that she was scheduled to attend an "important mandatory training" set for Saturday, May 16, 2015, at the Gaithersburg Depot. The notice stated that Calvo was not required to be in uniform to attend the "customer service class,"1 and that the training was set to run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The County required all employees to attend this training annually. En route to the training, Calvo was rear-ended by another car while waiting at a traffic light.

Calvo filed a claim with the Commission, seeking compensation for injuries sustained in the rear-end collision. At the Commission hearing on October 30, 2015, Calvo testified about her injury, as well as the mandatory nature of the training. She believed that if she missed the training she would probably get suspended or be prevented from going back to work "full duty."2 Before the Commission, the parties argued the applicability of the special mission exception. The Commission awarded compensation after finding that Calvo "sustained an accidental injury arising out of and in the course of employment ...."

The County sought judicial review of the Commission's Order in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, and requested a jury trial. Shortly thereafter, the County filed a

459 Md. 322

motion for summary judgment on grounds that the "going and coming rule" prohibited recovery—because accidental injuries sustained while going to or coming from work do not ordinarily arise out of and in the course of employment, and none of the exceptions to the rule applied. Calvo opposed the Motion, maintaining that compensation was proper under the special mission exception, or because she was a traveling employee. After a hearing, the Court granted the County's motion.

The Court concluded that as a matter of law, Calvo's accident fell within the going and coming rule, and that Calvo was not a traveling employee. The Court considered that Calvo was not compensated for her travel, it was an "annual, regular training" that was "part and parcel of her job," and it was not "out of the ordinary." It found that the training was "bus driver stuff," which involved "go[ing] over the rules of the road," and that the change in location, work on a day off, and the difference in distance did not bring Calvo's case within the special mission exception.

In an unreported opinion, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the Circuit Court's grant of summary judgment Calvo v. Montgomery Cty. , No. 1036, 2017 WL 2666161, at *8 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. June 21, 2017). The intermediate appellate court agreed that there was no dispute of material fact and concluded that the going and coming rule controlled. Id. at *4, 6.

We granted certiorari to resolve the following question:3

185 A.3d 151
459 Md. 323
Did the Circuit Court err in concluding as a matter of law that Calvo's injury did not arise out of and in the course of her employment, and granting summary judgment?

Our answer is yes.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Maryland Rule 2–501(a) permits a party to seek summary judgment at any time "on the ground that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." In reviewing a summary judgment motion, a court should not attempt to resolve factual issues, but only determine if there is a dispute of material fact sufficient to try the case. Baltimore Cty. v. Kelly , 391 Md. 64, 73, 891 A.2d 1103 (2006). Even if "the relevant facts are undisputed, ‘if those facts are susceptible to inferences supporting the position of the party opposing summary judgment, then a grant of summary judgment is improper.’ " Ashton v. Brown , 339 Md. 70, 79–80, 660 A.2d 447 (1995) (quoting Clea v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore , 312 Md. 662, 677, 541 A.2d 1303 (1988) ). We review a grant of summary judgment without deference, and construe the facts, and any reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Rockwood Cas. Co. v. Uninsured Emp'rs' Fund , 385 Md. 99, 106, 867 A.2d 1026 (2005).

459 Md. 324

DISCUSSION

The Workers' Compensation Act ("Act") is intended to protect workers and their families through compensation for a loss of earning capacity due to workers' injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment. See Howard Cty. Ass'n for Retarded Citizens, Inc. v. Walls , 288 Md. 526, 531, 418 A.2d 1210 (1980). The Act "is to be construed as liberally in favor of injured employees as its provisions will permit in order to effectuate its benevolent purposes as remedial social legislation." Tornillo , 329 Md. at 48, 617 A.2d 572 ; Roberts v. Montgomery Cty. , 436 Md. 591, 603, 84 A.3d 87 (2014).

Maryland Code (1991, 2016 Repl. Vol.), § 9–501 of the Labor and Employment Article ("LE") provides that "each employer of a covered employee shall provide compensation in accordance with this title to ... the covered employee for an accidental personal injury sustained by the covered employee ...." An "accidental personal injury" is an "accidental injury that arises out of and in the course of employment[.]" LE § 9–101(b).

185 A.3d 152

LE § 9–737 permits a party to seek judicial review of Commission orders in circuit court. A party may request review on the record before the Commission, which we have described as similar to "judicial review of the final action of most state administrative agencies ...." Kelly , 391 Md. at 67, 891 A.2d 1103. Alternatively, a party may select a "new evidentiary hearing and decision before a jury ...." Id. at 67–68, 891 A.2d 1103 ; LE § 9–745(d). The latter is what the County requested, and so our review is "much like" that due a motion for summary judgment following "an original civil complaint brought in a circuit court." Id.

Regardless of the method of appeal, the Commission's decision is "presumed to be prima facie correct[,]" and "the party challenging the decision has the burden of proof." LE § 9–745(b). To prevail in judicial review, the appellant must overcome the statutory presumption. Kelly , 391 Md. at 76, 891 A.2d 1103 ; LE § 9–745(b)(1). After the Commission issues an award to a claimant, "the burden of proof, which was

459 Md. 325

borne by the claimant before the Commission, switches to the employer before the circuit court." Kelly , 391 Md. at 75–76, 891 A.2d 1103. A successful claimant has no burden of production in judicial review—the Commission's decision may serve as the claimant's prima facie case. Id. at 76, 891 A.2d 1103 (citing General Motors Corp. v. Bark , 79 Md. App. 68, 80, 555 A.2d 542 (1989) ).

The parties raise perennial questions about the fact/law dichotomy inherent in review of summary judgments. Calvo contends that whether an accident arose out of and in the course of employment, the special mission exception, and her status as a traveling employee are questions of fact. Calvo maintains that summary judgment was improper because the County did not offer additional evidence in its motion for summary judgment, and the Commission's factual determinations are presumed correct. She relies on Kelly , 391 Md....

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17 practice notes
  • Montgomery Cnty. v. Maloney, No. 632, Sept. Term, 2018
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • April 7, 2020
    ...a purely legal question, but rather a factual question—or at least a "mixed" question of law and fact. See Calvo v. Montgomery County , 459 Md. 315, 326, 185 A.3d 146 (2018) (noting that "[t]he question as to whether an injury arose out of or in the course of employment is ordinarily, like ......
  • Montgomery Cnty. v. Cochran, No. 2930, Sept. Term, 2018
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 1, 2019
    ...Md. at 60, 31 A.3d 191 (citing Breitenbach v. N.B. Handy Co. , 366 Md. 467, 485, 784 A.2d 569 (2001) ); accord Calvo v. Montgomery Cty. , 459 Md. 315, 325–26, 185 A.3d 146 (2018) ("Although the Commission is entitled to deference in its interpretation of the statute it administers, we may s......
  • Schwan Food Co. v. Frederick, No. 1289, Sept. Term, 2017
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • June 27, 2019
    ...for a loss of earning capacity due to workers' injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment." Calvo v. Montgomery Cty. , 459 Md. 315, 324, 185 A.3d 146 (2018) (citation omitted). The Act is remedial in nature and, therefore, "is to be construed as liberally in favor of injured......
  • Castruccio v. Estate of Castruccio, No. 1651
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • February 14, 2019
    ...and any reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Calvo v. Montgomery Cty., 459 Md. 315, 323 (2018). We consider the '"same information from the record and decide[] the same issues of law as the trial Page 16court."' Catler v. A......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Montgomery Cnty. v. Maloney, No. 632, Sept. Term, 2018
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • April 7, 2020
    ...a purely legal question, but rather a factual question—or at least a "mixed" question of law and fact. See Calvo v. Montgomery County , 459 Md. 315, 326, 185 A.3d 146 (2018) (noting that "[t]he question as to whether an injury arose out of or in the course of employment is ordinarily, like ......
  • Montgomery Cnty. v. Cochran, No. 2930, Sept. Term, 2018
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 1, 2019
    ...Md. at 60, 31 A.3d 191 (citing Breitenbach v. N.B. Handy Co. , 366 Md. 467, 485, 784 A.2d 569 (2001) ); accord Calvo v. Montgomery Cty. , 459 Md. 315, 325–26, 185 A.3d 146 (2018) ("Although the Commission is entitled to deference in its interpretation of the statute it administers, we may s......
  • Schwan Food Co. v. Frederick, No. 1289, Sept. Term, 2017
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • June 27, 2019
    ...for a loss of earning capacity due to workers' injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment." Calvo v. Montgomery Cty. , 459 Md. 315, 324, 185 A.3d 146 (2018) (citation omitted). The Act is remedial in nature and, therefore, "is to be construed as liberally in favor of injured......
  • Castruccio v. Estate of Castruccio, No. 1651
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • February 14, 2019
    ...and any reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Calvo v. Montgomery Cty., 459 Md. 315, 323 (2018). We consider the '"same information from the record and decide[] the same issues of law as the trial Page 16court."' Catler v. A......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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