Johnman v. Packard Elec. Div.

Decision Date15 September 1986
Docket NumberNo. 3647,3647
Citation515 N.E.2d 649,33 Ohio App.3d 250
PartiesJOHNMAN, Appellant, v. PACKARD ELECTRIC DIVISION et al., Appellees.
CourtOhio Court of Appeals

Syllabus by the Court

The determination as to whether a workers' compensation claim for an injury resulting from a fall on an icy area in the company parking lot should be allowed is to be made on an analysis based on Littlefield v. Pillsbury Co. (1983), 6 Ohio St.3d 389, 6 OBR 439, 453 N.E.2d 570.

Elliott, Heller & Maas Co., L.P.A., and Rush E. Elliott, Youngstown, for appellant.

Edward Lavelle, Warren, for appellee Packard Elec. Div.

Anthony J. Celebrezze, Jr., Atty. Gen., Columbus, Mark E. Mastrangelo, Willoughby, and J. Thomas Henretta, Columbus, for the Industrial Com'n of Ohio et al.

FORD, Judge.

At approximately 12:30 a.m. on March 4, 1982, plaintiff-appellant, Catherine Johnman, left her place of employment with defendant-appellee, Packard Electric Division, in Trumbull County, Ohio, and proceeded to the company parking lot. The weather conditions on the day in question were extremely snowy and icy. As appellant approached her car, her leg went out from underneath her, causing appellant to fall on an icy area. Appellant landed on her left knee, resulting in a contusion and a tibial plateau fracture of such knee. The nature and extent of appellant's injuries are not at issue here. Rather, appellee has denied that the injury is compensable under the workers' compensation law.

Appellant filed a claim with the Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Following a hearing on the claim, a district hearing officer denied appellant's claim on the ground that her injury did not arise out of the scope and course of her employment. The regional board of review affirmed the district hearing officer's decision, and the Industrial Commission of Ohio refused to hear appellant's appeal.

On May 2, 1984, appellant Johnman filed an appeal against defendants-appellees, Packard Electric Division, the Administrator of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, and the Industrial Commission of Ohio, in the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, pursuant to R.C. 4123.519. Subsequently, appellant and appellees were both granted leave to file motions for summary judgment instanter. On September 30, 1985, the trial court denied appellant's motion for summary judgment and entered summary judgment for appellees. On October 11, 1985, appellant timely filed her notice of appeal presenting the following sole assignment of error:

"As a matter of law the trial court erred when it granted summary judgment for the defendants-appellees, thus, holding that the plaintiff-appellant did not sustain her injuries in the course of and arising out of her employment."

Appellant's sole assignment of error is well-taken.

In order for an injury to be compensable under Ohio's workers' compensation law, such injury must occur "in the course of, and arising out of, the injured employee's employment." R.C. 4123.01(C).

In the present action, the trial court concluded that appellees were entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law, basing its conclusion on the Ohio Supreme Court's decision in Walborn v. Gen. Fireproofing Co. (1947), 147 Ohio St. 507, 34 O.O. 413, 72 N.E.2d 95, where it was held that:

"A workman is not entitled to obtain compensation for a disability resulting from a fall on ice and snow on a parking lot provided by his employer when the condition there is the same as prevails generally throughout the community and has been caused by a storm during the preceding day and night." Id. at paragraph three of the syllabus. See, also, Bonner v. Connor (June 20, 1985), Cuyahoga App. No. 49189, unreported.

The trial court stated that since the instant case was on all fours with Walborn, supra, the court was duty bound to apply Walborn and deny compensation to appellant.

Since the rule in Walborn, supra, was announced, the determination of whether a compensable injury has occurred during the course of and arising out of the claimant's employment has undergone many changes.

In Marlow v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (1967), 10 Ohio St.2d 18, 39 O.O.2d 11, 225 N.E.2d 241, the Ohio Supreme Court held that an employee was no longer subject to the strict application of the "going and coming" rule, which rule denied compensation benefits, once the zone of employment was reached, for injuries sustained while travelling to and from work. The court expanded the concept of "zone of employment" to include areas of ingress and egress and awarded workers' compensation benefits to an employee who was injured as the result of an automobile accident in the employee parking lot.

Recently, another exception known as the "special hazard or risk"...

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