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Workers' Compensation

Happy Birthday, Cruiser T…..and a Premises Rule Decision In DE That’s a Gift for Claimants Everywhere

Today is Cruiser T's first birthday.  You may recall that little Cruiser is the younger of my two rescue cats.....his older sister being the infamous Nutella Grace.  I think I am going to bring home a vanilla ice cream cake and let Cruiser have at it.

Today is also special in that I heard from Brian Lutness, who was calling me to gloat about a very recent course and scope decision.  Shades of my 11/13/12 post titled "They've paved Paradise and put up a parking lot......" which was a study in the obvious as it relates to the premises rule.  Today's case is a little less obvious although the outcome certainly isn't shocking.  For years (and in my case, for decades) we have seen the expansion of the Premises Rule.  To include the access roads, the common areas of an office building, and in the Tickles case, the areas that comprise a multi-building office complex. Some might call it the erosion of the Premises Rule......

But today's case prompted me to review the contents of my almighty research drawer in that I thought I perceived a ....well....shall we call it a slight deviation?  My post of 7/8/11 ("Two out of three ain't bad....") contained discussion of a case captioned Tracey Dietel v. Chartwell Law, IAB# 1362880 (6/27/11) wherein it was held that a slip and fall on a public sidewalk outside the employer's office building was not in course and scope, applying the Premises Rule. See also a case not reported, Cheryl Petteway v. Davita, Inc., IAB# 1227030 (3/25/04) for a similar holding.  In those cases the concept of the Premises Rule was strictly and literally applied.

So comes now Brian Lutness representing an injured worker who was employed in the Nemours Building.... And who slipped and fell on her way to work, prior to entering the building, on a driveway area adjacent to her building squarely in front of the café that many of us know as Sugarfoot.  In an area used for valet parking....also referred to as a "parking semi-circle"......

I give you Dawn Armstead v. Delaware Claims Processing Facility, IAB#1383199 (12/4/12).  And as I read this decision it was significant to the decision-makers that this "parking semi-circle"....also lovingly referred to as a "semi-circular parking apron" was not deemed an extension of the public street but rather a "valet parking amenity" that the employer, in relationship to the landlord, was entitled to utilize.

As stated above, nothing shocking about this one.  The trend of a generous application of the Premises Rule continues.  And my advice to you-if you are inclined to slip and fall at work just make sure that you avoid the public roadways in favor of a convenient parking apron.....LOL!

Irreverently yours,
Cassandra Roberts

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

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