Swartz v. McDonald's Corp.

Decision Date12 November 1998
Docket NumberNo. 97-3023,97-3023
Citation726 So.2d 783
PartiesTessann SWARTZ, Appellant, v. McDONALD'S CORPORATION and Corporate Systems, Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Alfred J. Hilado, Orlando; Bill McCabe, Longwood, for Appellant.

Scott B. Miller and Jason D. Lazarus of Hurley, Rogner, Miller, Cox & Waranch, P.A., Orlando, for Appellees.

VAN NORTWICK, J.

In this worker's compensation appeal, Tessann Swartz, the claimant below and a former human resources trainee for appellee, McDonald's Corporation (the employer), appeals an order of the Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) denying compensability of her petition for benefits on the ground that her claim was barred by the operation of the going and coming rule, section 440.092(2), Florida Statutes (1995). We affirm on all issues, although we write to address only one: Whether claimant's carrying in her car the employer's display booth for use in her employment at a job fair turned otherwise noncompensable travel from work to home into compensable employment travel? Our review of the record leads us to the conclusion that claimant established nothing more than she was carrying the paraphernalia or tools useful in her employment when she was injured in an automobile accident on her way home from work. Competent, substantial evidence supports the JCC's finding that claimant was not involved in employment related travel.

Factual and Procedural Background

Claimant, who lives in Orlando, commuted to Tampa where her human resources training primarily occurred. Much of claimant's training was on-the-job and her duties included the recruitment of new store managers, requiring her attendance representing McDonald's at various job fairs. On Friday, March 1, 1996, claimant attended a regional McDonald's meeting in Tampa. Barbara Lenco, another McDonald's human resources employee, and claimant were required to attend a job fair starting in Orlando on Monday, March 4 at 1:30 p.m. After the Friday meeting ended at 3:50 p.m., Lenco and claimant placed in claimant's car a part of a booth used to advertise McDonald's at job fairs. The remaining part of the booth was put in Lenco's car. Claimant testified that she planned to store the part of the booth for which she was responsible at home over the weekend and on Monday travel to the job fair site with the booth. The job fair booth is normally stored in McDonald's Tampa offices when not in use.

After leaving her office on March 1, claimant began the drive to her home in Orlando. En route home, she was involved in an automobile accident on Interstate Highway 4 at approximately 5:30 p.m. the same day.

Claimant filed a petition seeking temporary disability benefits. The employer/carrier defended on the grounds that claimant's injuries did not arise out of and in the course and scope of her employment.

At the hearing, claimant testified that, when the promoters of a job fair give prospective employers enough space, McDonald's would set up a display booth advertising its name and services. At this particular Orlando job fair, McDonald's was allowed to have a booth. Both claimant and her supervisor testified that it was the responsibility of the human resources staff to take the booth to the job fair. Lenco and claimant planned to set the booth up at the job fair location on Monday. In fact, despite the accident, claimant did attend the job fair on Monday, March 4, 1996, bringing her part of the job fair booth with her.

The JCC ruled in pertinent part:
The fact that the claimant had a booth in the back of her car on the date of accident which she intended to use the following Monday in Orlando does not turn this otherwise non-compensable going and coming case [into] a compensable event. The claimant made no special trip to Tampa to secure this "tool." At the time of the claimant's accident she was on a journey which was regular and frequent and was not prompted by any sudden call by her employer. The burden of placing a tool in her car to transport with her for use in her job the following Monday was minor when viewed in context of the claimant's usual duties and route home. The fact is abundantly clear that at the time of the accident the claimant was off work and not engaged in any employment related duty nor was she on any employer requested errand. The accident and injuries sustained therein were personal to the claimant and occurred at [a] time when claimant was returning home from work at her usual, normal, and customary place of employment.
Going and Coming Rule

Under the going and coming rule, "injuries sustained by employees when going to or returning from their regular place of work are not deemed to arise out of and in the course of their employment." Sweat v. Allen, 145 Fla. 733, 200 So. 348, 350 (1941). The going and coming rule has been codified in section 440.092(2), Florida Statutes (1995), as follows:

Going or Coming—An injury suffered while going to or coming from work is not an injury arising out of and in the course of employment whether or not the employer provided transportation if such means of transportation was available for the exclusive personal use by the employee, unless the employee was engaged in a special errand or mission for the employer.

"In the course of employment" refers "to the time, place and circumstances under which the accident occurs," Spivey v. Battaglia Fruit Co., 138 So.2d 308, 311 (Fla.1962), and "arising out of" refers to "origin or cause." Id.

Since industry must carry the burden [of the expenses incident to the hazards of employment], there must then be some causal connection between the employment and the injury, or it must have had its origin in some risk incident to or connected with the employment, or have followed from it as a natural consequence.

Glasser v. Youth Shop, 54 So.2d 686, 687 (Fla.1951).

The going and coming rule does not apply to employee travel which is undertaken to perform a special errand or mission for the employer. D.C. Moore & Sons v. Wadkins, 568 So.2d 998, 999 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990). A special errand may exist "if the journey was a substantial part of the service performed for the employer [or] ... where the employee is instructed to perform a special errand which grows out of and is incidental to his employment." Id. (citations omitted).

We find unavailing claimant's contention that the record evidence below compels a finding that she was on a special errand or mission for her employer at the time of her injury. To the contrary, although carrying a booth to job fair sites was an employment duty of claimant, below even claimant's own attorney characterized the transportation of the booth as a "minimal job duty." Further, the particular journey to Orlando on March 1 was not undertaken as a service for the employer. We find competent, substantial evidence to support the JCC's finding that claimant's travel to Orlando did not arise out of her employment or involve the performance of a special errand or mission or task outside regular hours at the request of the employer and for the employer's benefit. See Eady v. Medical Personnel Pool, 377 So.2d 693, 695 (Fla.1979); D.C. Moore & Sons v. Wadkins, 568 So.2d 998, 998-99 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990); Bruck v. Glen Johnson, Inc., 418 So.2d 1209, 1211 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982). As stated in Eady, 377 So.2d at 696, compensation will be denied under the going and coming rule where the journey is essentially for personal reasons, as the JCC found in the instant case.

Claimant also argues that under Schoenfelder v. Winn & Jorgensen, P.A., 704 So.2d 136 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997), her travel to Orlando was excepted from the going and coming rule and, therefore, was within the course of her employment. We cannot agree. In Schoenfelder, the claimant, an attorney, began preparing for a deposition at home in the morning, and was struck by a vehicle while walking to his car to drive to the scheduled deposition of the physician at the physician's office. The claimant established that travel to various locations was a necessary part of his job. Thus, the record evidence supported that he was not simply commuting between his house and his regular office, but was within the "time and place" of his employment at the time of his injury.

Dual Purpose Doctrine

Finally, we disagree with claimant that her drive the evening of March 1 was compensable because it had dual purposes, a business one as well as the personal one of commuting home from work. The so-called "dual purpose doctrine" provides that an injury which occurs during travel serving both business and personal purposes is considered within the course of employment if the travel involves the performance of a service essential to the business of the employer such that the travel would be required to be undertaken by someone on the employer's behalf if it had not coincided with the claimant's personal journey. D.C. Moore & Sons,568 So.2d at 999. The parameters of the dual purpose doctrine are demonstrated by Gulliford v. Nikko Gold Coast Cruises, 423 So.2d 588, 589 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982),approved sub nom., Nikko Gold Coast Cruises v. Gulliford, 448 So.2d 1002 (Fla.1984). In Gulliford, the claimant's duties included emptying the cash drawers used by the employer's ticket sellers, locking the money in his car, safekeeping the cash at home at night, and returning it to work in the morning. The ticket sellers were unable to open for business until the operating cash was returned. Id., 448 So.2d at 1003. Claimant was involved in an automobile accident while he was on his way to work with the money in his possession. This court, in ruling the accident compensable, focused on the fact that taking the employer's operating funds home was an employment duty which was part of the claimant's contract of employment. Id.,423 So.2d at 590.

On review in the Florida Supreme Court, however, the Court explained that, in Florida, the focus should not simply be on whether the...

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4 cases
  • Swartz v. McDonald's Corp.
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • May 24, 2001
    ...of Hurley, Rogner, Miller, Cox & Waranch, P.A., Orlando, FL, for Respondents. QUINCE, J. We have for review Swartz v. McDonald's Corp., 726 So.2d 783 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998), which expressly and directly conflicts with our opinions in Nikko Gold Coast Cruises v. Gulliford, 448 So.2d 1002 (Fla.1......
  • Gilbert v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc.
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • July 12, 2001
    ...and Cook v. Highway Casualty Co., 82 So.2d 679 (Fla.1955), and which cited to the First District's decision in Swartz v. McDonald's Corporation, 726 So.2d 783 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998),quashed, 788 So.2d 937 (Fla.2001), a decision which was granted review in this Court. We have jurisdiction. See ......
  • Florida Hosp. v. Garabedian, 1D99-3262.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • September 12, 2000
    ...reversal, the employer argues that this case is governed by the standards set forth in this court's decision in Swartz v. McDonald's Corp., 726 So.2d 783 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998), rev. granted, 729 So.2d 918 (Fla.1999). The employer asserts that, in Swartz, this court noted that the important qu......
  • Swartz v. McDonald's Corp.
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • March 26, 1999

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