Keever v. University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, No. 5-635/04-1434 (IA 9/28/2005)

Decision Date28 September 2005
Docket NumberNo. 5-635/04-1434,5-635/04-1434
PartiesMICHAEL KEEVER, Claimant-Appellant, v. UNIVERSITY OF IOWA HOSPITALS AND CLINICS and STATE OF IOWA, Defendants-Appellees.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Amanda Potterfield, Judge.

Claimant-appellant Michael Keever contends the workers' compensation commissioner and the district court erred in determining that he did not sustain an injury which arose out of and in the course of his employment. AFFIRMED.

Thomas J. Currie and James E. Bennett of Tom Riley Law Firm, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General and Shirley A. Steffee, Assistant Attorney General, for appellees.

Considered by Sackett, C.J., and Mahan and Miller, JJ.

SACKETT, C.J.

Claimant-appellant Michael Keever was injured following a fall off his bicycle as he rode to work at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (Hospital). He filed a petition seeking workers' compensation benefits from the Hospital and the State of Iowa. The agency determined that his alleged injuries did not arise in the course of his employment and on judicial review the district court affirmed the agency. Claimant on appeal contends the commissioner and the district court erred in finding he did not sustain an injury which arose out of and in the course of his employment. We affirm.

Background.

Claimant is employed by University Hospitals and Clinics as an anesthesia technician. He works a 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shift at the Colloton Pavilion on the hospital campus. At the time of his fall, a few minutes before 6:00 a.m. on May 18, 2000, he was on a sidewalk on the University of Iowa campus and was some two hundred and fifty yards from the entrance to the Pavilion where he was employed. Claimant contended, and the commissioner found, that his fall was the result of his stopping suddenly to avoid a collision with a riding lawnmower operated by a University of Iowa employee.

After a hearing a deputy workers' compensation commissioner found claimant's injuries did not arise out of or occur in the course of his employment. Claimant appealed to the commissioner who found, "Pursuant to Iowa Code section 86.24 and 17A.15 I affirm and adopt as final agency action those portions of the proposed decision in this matter that relate to issues properly raised on intra-agency appeal."1 The district court on judicial review affirmed the commissioner and dismissed the petition for further review.

Scope of Review.

We review the district court decision by applying the standards of the Iowa Administrative Procedure Act to the agency action to determine if our conclusions are the same reached by the district court. University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics v. Waters, 674 N.W.2d 92, 96 (Iowa 2004); Locate.Plus.Com, Inc. v. Iowa Dep't of Transp., 650 N.W.2d 609, 612 (Iowa 2002). Under the Iowa Administrative Procedure Act, a reviewing court may reverse the decision of the workers' compensation commissioner if it is not supported by substantial evidence in the record or characterized by an abuse of discretion. See Iowa Code § 17A.19(10) (2003); University of Iowa, 674 N.W.2d at 96.

Course of Employment.

For the Workers' Compensation Act to apply, the claimant must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the employee's injuries arose out of and in the course of the employment. Waterhouse Water Conditioning, Inc. v. Waterhouse, 561 N.W.2d 55, 57 (Iowa 1997). An injury "arises out of" the employment provided there is a causal connection between the employment and the injury. Id. The injury arises "in the course of" the employment when the injury and the employment coincide as to time, place, and circumstances. Id. Thus, the claimant must satisfy a two-prong test: the "arises out of" and the "arises in the course of" prongs. Bailey v. Batchelder, 576 N.W.2d 334, 338 (Iowa 1998).

An injury arises in the course of the employment when it is within the period of employment, at a place where the employee reasonably may be in performing his duties, and while he is fulfilling those duties or engaged in doing something incidental thereto. Quaker Oats Co. v. Ciha, 552 N.W.2d 143, 150 (Iowa 1996). An injury arising in the course of employment embraces all injuries received while employed in furthering the employer's business and injuries received on the employer's premises, provided that the employee's presence must ordinarily be required at the place of the injury. Id. An employee does not cease to be in the course of his employment merely because he is not actually engaged in doing some specifically prescribed task, if, in the course of his employment, he does some act which he deems necessary for the benefit or interest of his employer. Waterhouse, 561 N.W.2d at 57. The "in the course of" prong demands that the claimant establish "the injury [arose] within the time and space boundaries of the employment, and in the course of an activity whose purpose is related to the employment." Bailey, 576 N.W.2d at 338.

Claimant's injury did not occur during the period of his employment (from 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) nor did it involve his fulfilling the duties of his employment or something incidental thereto, for at the time of the alleged injury claimant was not engaged in rendering services to his employer. Nor did the injury happen in a place that his employment required him to be. Rather, the fall came as claimant was going to work on a path he chose from many available choices.

Generally, with a few exceptions, an employee such as claimant who has both a fixed place to work and fixed hours to work is not covered by workers' compensation on the way to and from work. See Waterhouse, 561 N.W.2d at 57-58; Frost v. S.S. Kresge Co., 299 N.W.2d 646, 648 (Iowa 1980). The hazards encountered by an employee in going to or returning from work are not ordinarily incident to his employment within the meaning of the phrase as used in the workers' compensation law. Quaker Oats, 552 N.W.2d at 150-51; Frost, 299 N.W.2d at 648. As an employee travels to work he or she is engaged in his or her own business, and the employment commences only after the employee reaches the employer's premises. See Otto v. Independent Sch. Dist., 237 Iowa 991, 994, 23 N.W.2d 915, 916 (1946). This is frequently referred to as the "going and coming" rule.2

Employer's Premises.

Claimant first contends that the "going and coming" rule should not apply because he was actually on his employer's premises when the injury occurred. It is fair to say that claimant was employed by the State of Iowa and the property where he fell was owned by the State of Iowa. However, premises as used in a workers' compensation act is not synonymous with and has a narrower meaning than the word property. 99 C.J.S. Workers' Compensation § 426, at 512 (2000). The term premises normally includes the place necessary for conducting business and "does not include all property of the employer, but only those portions [of property] which are in or immediately adjacent to the employer's place of business where the employee concerned is employed." Id. Claimant's job was conducted entirely in the hospital. The injury did not occur on the premises where claimant worked.

The term premises also "contemplates workers' compensation for injuries occurring on parking lots provided for the use of employees." Id....

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