Layne Atlantic Co. v. Scott, AH-151

Citation415 So.2d 837
Decision Date23 June 1982
Docket NumberNo. AH-151,AH-151
PartiesLAYNE ATLANTIC COMPANY and Wausau Insurance Companies, Appellants, v. Allen Eugene SCOTT, Appellee.
CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)

Richard A. Weisberg, of Cooper & Rissman, Orlando, for appellants.

Bill McCabe, of Shepherd, McCabe & Cooley, Orlando, for appellee.

WIGGINTON, Judge.

In this workers' compensation appeal, the employer/carrier contend that the value of out of town vehicle and motel expenses should not have been considered by the deputy commissioner when computing the claimant's average weekly wage and the concomitant compensation rate. The appellants also argue that the deputy erred in awarding Scott an attorney's fee pursuant to Section 440.34(2)(b), Florida Statutes (1979). We agree in part.

The term "wages" is defined by statute as "the reasonable value of board, rent, housing, lodging or similar advantage received from the employer." § 440.02(12), Fla.Stat. (1979). By decisional authority, this definition has been said to encompass employee benefits such as work uniforms, 1 child care and meals, 2 and the employer's contributions to medical insurance 3 and vested pension plans. 4 In each of these circumstances, the employer-provided benefits represented a real and reasonably definite economic gain to the employee. See 82 Am.Jur.2d, Workmen's Compensation §§ 371, 372. The employer expenses presented in this case, however, do not fall entirely within the contemplation of the statute.

We must not lose sight of the reason for determining average weekly wage, which is to eventually measure the economic loss a worker experiences when he suffers "loss of wage earning capacity" or "wage loss" as those terms of art are statutorily defined. If an employer stops helping an employee meet his personal expenses, the employee has suffered an economic loss. Obviously this occurs when the employee loses his job and paycheck; more subtly, it may occur when an employer no longer provides clothing worn at work. However, if an employer no longer makes certain expense payments because the employee no longer incurs those expenses, the employee has suffered no economic loss.

In short, we cannot construe the term "wages" to include a make-whole reimbursement for uniquely work-related expenses that are created by and within the employment. See Moorehead v. Industrial Commission of Arizona, 17 Ariz.App. 96, 495 P.2d 866 (1972).

Here, because the away-from-home motel expense was solely a creature of the job, Scott, who is no longer employed by Layne Atlantic Company and no longer must bear this extraordinary expense, has suffered no economic loss based on his failure to receive such reimbursement now. Consequently, the deputy should not have added this value to Scott's average weekly wage.

Similarly, the vehicle provided Scott appears to have been a solely work-created and work-related expense; however, the record is not conclusive. It is a relatively simple matter to identify such items as meals, uniforms and insurance or pensions and conclude that they satisfy independent personal needs for food, clothing and protection from calamity, thereby qualifying as "wages." Conversely, it is readily apparent that a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement for an away-from-home motel room satisfies a need that would not exist but for the idiosyncrasies of work, so it cannot be considered as "wages." However, benefits derived from an employer-provided vehicle cannot be so neatly categorized; this raises a question of fact that must be resolved by the deputy commissioner.

If it is reasonably possible to identify items or expenses of independent personal benefit, then the deputy must do so and include the value of such personal benefit as part of the average weekly wage. A deputy has wide fact-finding latitude in this regard, and his valuation will not be disturbed if it is reasonably supported by the record. On remand, the deputy is directed to ascertain, if reasonably...

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24 cases
  • Vegas v. Globe Sec.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • November 22, 1993
    ...573 So.2d 383, 385 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991); Bright v. City of Tampa, 546 So.2d 1122, 1124 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989); Layne Atl. Co. v. Scott, 415 So.2d 837, 838-839 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982). Concurrent earnings analyses, on the other hand, have relied upon the legal concept of AWW as embodied in section 4......
  • Blake Stevens Const. v. Henion
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • January 30, 1985
    ...computing compensation benefits unless it appears that the employee derived some economic gain from those payments. Layne Atlantic v. Scott, Fla.App., 415 So.2d 837 (1982); Moorehead v. Industrial Commission, 17 Ariz.App. 96, 495 P.2d 866 (1972); Solheim v. Hastings Housing Co., 151 Neb. 26......
  • Mason v. Dept. of Employment Services, 88-376.
    • United States
    • D.C. Court of Appeals
    • August 11, 1989
    ...expenses); Weingarten v. Democrat & Chronicle, 19 A.D.2d 566, 566, 239 N.Y.S.2d 980, 981 (1963) (same); cf. Layne Atlantic Co. v. Scott, 415 So.2d 837, 839 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App. 1982) (motel It is evident that the payments to the cab company were in the nature of reimbursements. The payments we......
  • Grimes v. GAB Business Services, Inc.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • April 6, 1999
    ...employed, are not part of his earnings for the purpose of fixing workmen's compensation. Id. at 870. See also Layne Atlantic Co. v. Scott, 415 So.2d 837, 838-39 (Fla.App.1982); Stahl v. Southeastern X-Ray, 427 So.2d 1089, 1090 (Fla.App.1983); Blake Stevens Construction v. Henion, 697 P.2d 2......
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