Price v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office of State of Colo., s. 95SC303

CourtSupreme Court of Colorado
Citation919 P.2d 207
Docket Number95SC535,Nos. 95SC303,s. 95SC303
PartiesMax D. PRICE, Petitioner, v. THE INDUSTRIAL CLAIM APPEALS OFFICE OF the STATE OF COLORADO; The Colorado Department of Corrections; and the Colorado Compensation Insurance Authority, Respondents. Jeannine M. ELTRICH and the Industrial Claim Appeals Office of the State of Colorado, Petitioners, v. CITY OF NORTHGLENN and Colorado Compensation Insurance Authority, Respondents.
Decision Date17 June 1996

Wilcox & Ogden, P.C., Ralph Ogden, Denver, Steven U. Mullens, P.C., Steven U. Mullens, Colorado Springs, for Petitioner Max Price in No. 95SC303.

Fogel, Keating & Wagner, P.C., Marshall A. Fogel, Laurence J. Free, Denver, for Petitioner Jeannine Eltrich in No. 95SC535.

Colorado Compensation Insurance Authority, Michael J. Steiner, Denver, for Respondents.

Chief Justice VOLLACK delivered the Opinion of the Court.

We granted certiorari to review the decisions of the court of appeals in Price v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 908 P.2d 136 (Colo.App.1995), and City of Northglenn v. Eltrich, 908 P.2d 139 (Colo.App.1995). In both cases, the court of appeals held that the respective claimants' injuries are not compensable under the Colorado Workers' Compensation Act, §§ 8-4-101 to 8-47-209, 3B C.R.S. (1995 Supp.). We affirm the judgment of the court of appeals.

I. Price

The Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) employed petitioner Max Price (Price) as a prison guard. While hanging upside down from a chin-up bar in his home on July 3, 1988, Price fell and landed on his neck, causing him injury. At a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), Price testified that prior to the injury, his supervisor had told him that in order to retain his job and opportunities for promotion, he would be required to lose some weight. Price's supervisor also provided him with a copy of the DOC's regulations, which provide that DOC employees have the responsibility to maintain the physical condition necessary to perform the duties of their positions. Price further testified that it was as the result of these communications from his supervisor that he was exercising on the chin-up bar at home when the injury occurred.

Price subsequently filed a workers' compensation claim in order to obtain compensation for this injury. After a hearing, the ALJ held that the injury was not compensable because Price's injury did not arise "out of and in the course of the employee's employment." The ALJ further stated:

Respondent Colorado Department of Corrections should not be held liable for benefits where Claimant was free to choose not only the type of physical exercise that he engaged in, but where, when, and how frequently he performed those exercises. To affirm an award of benefits would allow Claimant to choose highly dangerous exercise activities under the guise of job-related physical fitness.

ALJ Order dated May 27, 1993, at 14-15. The ALJ thus concluded that Price's July 3, 1988 injury did not result in a compensable injury. The Industrial Claims Appeals Office (ICAO) affirmed. Price subsequently appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, which affirmed the ICAO, holding that "the specific exercise program was not sufficiently controlled by the employer for the resulting injury to be compensable." Price, 908 P.2d at 138.

Eltrich

The City of Northglenn, Colorado, employed petitioner Jeannine Eltrich (Eltrich) as a police officer. In 1990, the Northglenn Police Department (the Department) instituted a physical fitness program (the program) which required that all police officers maintain certain fitness levels. The program required that all officers take a physical fitness examination every three months to verify that they continue to meet the appropriate standards. 1

In June of 1991, Eltrich failed the running portion of the physical fitness examination. At a hearing before an ALJ, Eltrich testified that after failing the test, one of her supervisors warned her that she had "better run the next one." At this time, Eltrich testified, she felt that the Department was about to take disciplinary action against her. Evidence was also presented at the hearing that Eltrich smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. In an attempt to improve her cardiovascular system to the extent necessary to comply with the Department's fitness requirements, Eltrich began to ride her bicycle during her off-duty hours. On June 14, 1991, Eltrich fell from her bicycle and suffered injuries while riding in the vicinity of her home.

Eltrich subsequently filed a workers' compensation claim in order to obtain compensation for her injuries. After a hearing, the ALJ held that Eltrich's injuries are compensable because the accident causing the injuries arose out of and in the course of Eltrich's employment with the department. The ICAO affirmed the ALJ's order.

On appeal, the court of appeals initially affirmed the ICAO's order. City of Northglenn v. Eltrich, No. 94CA1328 (Colo.App. April 20, 1995) (Eltrich I ). In so holding, the court noted that the Colorado courts had not previously addressed the compensability of injuries sustained by an employee who engages in off-duty exercise when that exercise is mandated or encouraged by the employer. The court thus looked to cases addressing the compensability of work-related recreational activities. The court utilized the test from City and County of Denver v. Lee, 168 Colo. 208, 450 P.2d 352 (1969), and held that those factors indicated that Eltrich's injuries are compensable.

The Lee factors, as stated by the court in Eltrich I, are

whether the activity occurred during working hours; whether it occurred on or off the employer's premises; whether participation was required; whether the employer took the initiative in sponsoring or organizing the team; whether the employer made contributions to the team; and whether the employer derived a benefit from the team.

Eltrich I, No. 94CA1328, slip op. at 3-4. The court clarified that

[a]lthough not all these recreational factors are applicable here, the similarities are sufficiently close to provide a usable framework for analyzing the case of off-duty exercise.

Id. at 4.

The court then noted:

The evidence showed that employer established the physical fitness testing program and that disciplinary action could result from failure to meet certain standards. Claimant feared such repercussions after she again failed the test and suffered her supervisor's rebukes. Additionally, there was evidence that employer benefitted from claimant's off-duty exercise program, and employer provided no exercise facilities or time within which to exercise. These findings support the conclusion that the injury was compensable.

Id. The court of appeals thus affirmed the ICAO's order affirming the ALJ.

Petitioner Colorado Compensation Insurance Authority (CCIA) then filed a petition for rehearing, which the court of appeals granted. On rehearing, the court of appeals withdrew its prior opinion and issued a new opinion setting aside the award of benefits to Eltrich. City of Northglenn v. Eltrich, 908 P.2d 139 (Colo.App.1995) (Eltrich II ). In Eltrich II, the court held that the ALJ's factual findings did not support the ALJ's legal conclusion that Eltrich's injuries arose out of and occurred within the scope of Eltrich's employment.

The Eltrich II court also applied the Lee factors, but stated that "whether the activity occurs on the employer's premises and during work time[ ] are of 'unusual potency' in determining compensability." Eltrich II, 908 P.2d at 141 (citing 1 Arthur Larson, Workmen's Compensation Law § 22.24(b) (1994)). Consequently, the court held that

because claimant's bicycling activity occurred during non-working hours, at an off-premises location not subject to employer's control or supervision, and consisted of an activity not specifically directed by the employer, her injury did not arise out of and was not in the course of her employment....

Id. at 142. The court thus reversed the ICAO's order and held that Eltrich's injuries are not compensable.

The petitioners then petitioned this court for certiorari. We granted certiorari in both cases and consolidated the cases because of the similar issues involved.

II.

Both petitioners contend that their injuries arose out of and in the course of their employment and thus should be compensable. We disagree. Although under certain circumstances, injuries incurred during off-duty exercise might be compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act, neither of the factual scenarios before us presents such circumstances.

In order to be compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act, an injury incurred by an employee must arise out of and in the course of the employee's employment. § 8-41-301, 3B C.R.S. (1995 Supp.). An activity arises out of and in the course of employment when it is sufficiently interrelated to the conditions and circumstances under which the employee generally performs his job functions that the activity may reasonably be characterized as an incident of employment, although the activity itself is not a strict employment requirement and does not confer an express benefit on the employer. City of Boulder v. Streeb, 706 P.2d 786, 791 (Colo.1985).

This court has not heretofore determined whether injuries incurred by an employee who is engaged in off-duty exercise that is mandated or encouraged by an employer are compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act. In analyzing this issue, the court of appeals looked to the factors utilized by this court in City and County of Denver v. Lee, 168 Colo. at 213,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7 cases
  • City of Appleton Police Dep't v. Labor & Indus. Review Comm'n, 2011AP2008.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • 22 Marzo 2012
    ...City of Los Angeles v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd., 91 Cal.App.3d 759, 154 Cal.Rptr. 379 (1979); Price v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 919 P.2d 207 (Colo.1996); Meeks v. Eddy Cnty. Sheriff's Dept., 118 N.M. 643, 884 P.2d 534 (N.M.Ct.App.1994); Haugen v. State Accident Ins. Fund, 37 Or.Ap......
  • Dover Elevator Co. v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office of State of Colo., 97CA2155
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 11 Junio 1998
    ...of employment. City of Northglenn v. Eltrich, 908 P.2d 139 (Colo.App.1995), aff'd sub nom. Price v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 919 P.2d 207 (Colo.1996). That framework includes as factors to be considered: (1) whether the activity occurred during working hours; (2) whether it occurred......
  • Wackenhut Corp. v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office of State of Colo., 97CA0726
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 11 Diciembre 1997
    ...the so-called "heart attack statute," § 8-41-302(2), C.R.S.1997, and the test set forth in Price v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 919 P.2d 207 (Colo.1996), for compensability of injuries sustained while exercising to maintain physical fitness for The heart attack statute provides that di......
  • Stripling v. Dep't of Pub. Safety, Case Number: 118535
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • 7 Abril 2021
    ...arisen out of the "course and scope of employment." See 85A O.S. § 2(13); see also Price v. Indus. Claim Appeals Office of State of Colo., 919 P.2d 207, 210 (Colo. 1996) (Some states have adopted a multi-factor test "to determine whether an injury suffered by an employee while engaging in a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT