Eady v. Medical Personnel Pool

Decision Date29 November 1979
Docket NumberNo. 53417,53417
Citation377 So.2d 693
PartiesRita EADY, Petitioner, v. MEDICAL PERSONNEL POOL et al., Respondents.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Robert J. Compton of the Law Office of Robert J. Compton, Fort Lauderdale, for petitioner.

Stephen W. Bazinsky of Walton, Lantaff, Schroeder & Carson, Fort Lauderdale, for respondents.

ADKINS, Justice.

By petition for writ of certiorari we have for review a decision of the Industrial Relations Commission reversing an award of workmen's compensation benefits. Our jurisdiction is derived from Article V, section 3(b)(3) of the Florida Constitution.

The issue in this case is the applicability of the going and coming rule to an employee with irregular hours of work who was injured while responding to a call on behalf of her employer. The petitioner, Mrs. Rita M. Eady, is a registered nurse. She worked for Medical Personnel Pool, a temporary manpower service that provides nurses and other trained medical personnel. Medical Personnel Pool is not an employment service; instead, the workers it hires are and remain its employees.

Medical Personnel Pool provides temporary workers to its clients both on established schedules and on a special request basis. Mrs. Eady and many other employees did both kinds of jobs. They were subject to being called at any time and offered a special request job, even after having just completed a scheduled eight-hour shift. Although an employee accepting a job would have to set out promptly for wherever the special request assignment was, such assignments had the attraction that the employee was always paid for at least four hours work even if the assignment took less time than that. An employee on a special request job would likely be discharged once he completed his task, and thus he would receive four hours' pay even if he had worked only an hour or two.

On May 28, 1976, Mrs. Eady worked a 7:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. shift for Medical Personnel Pool at the Pinecrest Nursing Home. At about 4:30 P.M. Mrs. Eady was called at home by her employer and as a result was promptly on her way to a private client's home to do an intravenous administration. The testimony conflicts as to how this initial job was arranged, but that conflict is not material here. Mrs. Eady soon completed the assigned task and returned to her home. Later that evening the same client called Mrs. Eady and asked her to return to change the intravenous bottle. She agreed to do so and was injured in an automobile accident while en route.

The judge of industrial claims determined that Mrs. Eady was within the on-call exception to the going and coming rule. He therefore awarded compensation. Medical Personnel Pool and its insurer appealed and the Industrial Relations Commission reversed, finding that there is no authority in Florida law for general application of an on-call exception. The commission regarded Mrs. Eady as having an irregular schedule because each assignment was separate and could come at any hour. According to the commission, because Mrs. Eady was not requested to perform services beyond those she normally did, the mere circumstance that her assignment originated with a call from her employer did not make the injury compensable as an exception to the going and coming rule.

We disagree with the commission's reasoning and conclusions. The going and coming rule is one of the most familiar and most troublesome concepts in workmen's compensation law. It is grounded in the recognition that injuries suffered while going to or coming from work are essentially similar to other injuries suffered off duty away from the employer's premises and, like those other injuries, are usually not work related. Therefore going and coming injuries are as a rule noncompensable. But numerous exceptions allow compensation in certain circumstances. E. g., Grillo v. Gorney Beauty Shops, Co., 249 So.2d 13 (Fla.1971) (employee traveling for employer); Huddock v. Grant Motor Co., 228 So.2d 898 (Fla.1969) (transportation furnished by employer); Naranja Rock Co. v. Dawal Farms, 74 So.2d 282 (Fla.1954) (special hazard in commuting).

Arguably, the commission was correct in its assertion that there is no general on-call exception to the going and coming rule in Florida law. There is a broad exception for employees who are considered to be on duty at all times, such as police officers. Warg v. City of Miami Springs, 249 So.2d 3 (Fla.1971), Sweat v. Allen, 145 Fla. 733, 200 So. 348 (1941). But an employee who is subject to call or is on call is not considered to be on duty at all times. Alan Wright Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Simpson, 93 So.2d 375 (Fla.1957); Hi-Acres v. Pierce, 73 So.2d 49 (Fla.1954).

Strictly speaking then, there is no on-call exemption because compensation is based not on the employee's on-call status but on the circumstance that at the time of injury he was on a special errand in response to a call from his employer. The going and coming rule does not apply to employees on special errands or missions for the employer. Moody v. Baxley, 158 Fla. 357, 28 So.2d 325 (1946). Special errands often arise in the context of an afterhours call from the employer. See Feltner v. Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co., 274 So.2d 530 (Fla.1973). As a practical matter, the irregularity and suddenness of a call from the employer will almost always qualify it as a special errand exempt from the going and coming rule.

There have not been any Florida cases testing the point, but, logically, compensation for a going or coming injury will be denied when the errand is insufficiently special in the context of an employee's normal hours and duties. The single circumstance of irregular hours is insufficient to award compensation. Everett Ford Company v. Laney, 189 So.2d 877 (Fla.1966). Therefore, absent other special circumstances, an employee with irregular hours cannot be considered to be on a special errand when he is simply instructed to perform his usual duties at an irregular time.

Mrs. Eady's hours were ordinarily irregular and the service she was to perform was routine to her job. Apparently it was not unusual for Medical Personnel Pool employees to be called for a special request assignment after having already completed a scheduled shift or to be called back to the same client. Considering only those circumstances there seems to have been nothing special about the assignment Mrs. Eady was on, and therefore nothing for the special errand exception to take hold of. But a basic principle underlying the rule is that a going or coming injury is compensable as a special errand if the journey was a substantial part of the service performed for the employer. See generally Blount v. State...

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26 cases
  • Barnes v. Children's Hosp.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1995
    ...was called at the conclusion of a scheduled eight-hour shift to a special nursing assignment at a patient's home, Eady v. Medical Personnel Pool, 377 So.2d 693 (Fla.1979), and a "line foreman" for a telephone company who was called at home on his day off to check on a broken telephone pole ......
  • Calvo v. Montgomery Cnty.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 21, 2018
    ...support this conclusion. See Johnson v. Fairbanks Clinic , 647 P.2d 592, 596 (Alaska 1982) (pre-surgical meeting); Eady v. Med. Pers. Pool , 377 So.2d 693, 695 (Fla. 1979) (nursing duties); Brown v. City of Wheeling , 212 W.Va. 121, 569 S.E.2d 197, 200 (2002) (mandatory training). Although ......
  • Calvo v. Montgomery Cnty.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 21, 2018
    ...support this conclusion. See Johnson v. Fairbanks Clinic, 647 P.2d 592, 596 (Alaska 1982) (pre-surgical meeting); Eady v. Med. Pers. Pool, 377 So. 2d 693, 695 (Fla. 1979) (nursing duties); Brown v. City of Wheeling, 569 S.E.2d 197, 200 (W. Va. 2002) (mandatory training). Although the record......
  • Swartz v. McDonald's Corp.
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • May 24, 2001
    ...errand in response to a call from their employers, and is usually characterized by irregularity and suddenness. See Eady v. Medical Personnel Pool, 377 So.2d 693 (Fla.1979). The dual purpose doctrine provides that an injury which occurs as the result of a trip, a concurrent cause of which w......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Private employers' workers' compensation liability for on-call employees.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 77 No. 11, December 2003
    • December 1, 2003
    ...injury. (11) Or to third parties for the acts of the employee. (12) FLA. STAT. [section] 440.091. (13) Eady v. Medical Personnel Pool, 377 So. 2d 693 (Fla. (14) See supra note 7. (15) If liability arises, it would extend beyond workers' compensation to third parties injured because of the e......

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