Federal: Hospital Employee, Injured in Slip & Fall While Visiting Newborn Daughter, May Sue Employer in Tort

Federal: Hospital Employee, Injured in Slip & Fall While Visiting Newborn Daughter, May Sue Employer in Tort

Construing Massachusetts law, a federal district court recently denied an employer’s motion for summary judgment in a negligence action filed against the employer—a medical center—by an employee who slipped and fell on a wet floor in the medical center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  The employee, an executive assistant, had given birth to a daughter prematurely and, due to complications, the baby remained hospitalized in the medical center’s NICU for several months.  When the employee/mother returned to work, she made arrangements with her manager to use various break times throughout the day to visit her daughter in the NICU and pump breast milk.  The plaintiff employee came in early and stayed late to make up the time she spent in the NICU with her daughter.  The employer contended the civil action was barred by exclusivity.  The district court disagreed.  Without specifically mentioning the dual persona/dual capacity doctrine discussed by Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 113.08, the court held that the mere fact that the injury occurred on the employer’s premises was insufficient to bring the matter within the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, that at the time of her injury, the employee was engaged in a personal activity that was entirely unconnected to her employment.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Devlin v. Aramark Healthcare Support Servs., Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19532 (M. Mass., Feb. 18, 2014) [2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19532 (M. Mass., Feb. 18, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 113.08 [113.08]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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