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Workers' Compensation

Wawa and the Warehouse: Mixed Bag Results on Course & Scope in Delaware

Today is all about me……. (Just kidding.... well, kinda, sorta)….. I offer you two very recent rulings on course and scope, both of which are mine.  In the interest of parity, and lest you think I only profile my wins, we have one which was a winner and one which was a loser.  And as I am writing this I am prepping for yet a third course and scope hearing on Monday, no doubt one which you will be hearing about down the road a bit.

Speaking of going down the road, the first featured case is one in which an employee was involved in a motor vehicle accident on his way back from Wawa at lunch time.  I argued: “Premises rule, no free lunch for you!”  Brian Lutness at his articulate best argued: “I am still on the clock and Bedwell applies, so there!”

I am going to leave this for your reading pleasure.  The outcome is employer-friendly and the case is Matthew Chapman v. Dentsply, IAB# 1397867 (9/30/13).  This is a tightly-written, legally complete little ditty authored by Hearing Officer Julie Bucklin.  It offers a lively discussion of case law and a comprehensive discussion of the concept of “travelling employee”, the “premises rule” as well as the Bedwell and Dietel cases  (and as for Dietel, can’t it be argued that my paralegal is always on the clock?).

A far less delightful outcome for the employer in the second case du jour, Charles James v. Diamond State Warehouse, IAB# 1377939 (9/25/13).   Claimant was a truck driver on premises and on the clock preparing to begin a run when he was stabbed in the neck repeatedly by an off-the-clock co-worker.  There were knives, there was blood…….there was blood on knives …..and on $100-dollar bills.  There was even public urination.   This was a rough and tumble case involving “thug” behavior, if ever there was one.  And when it was suggested that I interview the assailant as part of my investigation….. well let’s just say I was having none of that.

My client defended on the proposition that this assault was fueled by personal animus and two men who just didn’t like each other to put it mildly.  The decision is noteworthy not so much for its factually-driven outcome as for the fact that it is what we fondly call a Chris Baum “cherishable”—that is, a decision authored by the Chief Hearing Officer which is itself a mini-treatise—in this case a mini-treatise on workplace assaults.  Congrats to Jonathan O’Neill on his victory for the claimant and big thanks to him for keeping me out of harm’s way……:>)

It’s good to be back.  It’s been far too long since I checked in with y’all as to the happenings at the IAB.  Shame on me……I promise not to let that happen again.

Irreverently yours,

Cassandra Roberts

    Visit Delaware Detour & Frolic, a law blog by Cassandra Roberts

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