Two Out of Three Ain't Bad-- A Little Ditty about Course and Scope in Delaware

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad-- A Little Ditty about Course and Scope in Delaware

Last month must have been course and scope month at the IAB.  Three recent releases from the IAB all discuss the issue of course and scope, specifically the "going and coming rule".  I myself took a little trip down to Baltimore two nights ago to be part of a Charles Stanley book signing at Barnes & Noble and while I would just love to argue that my spiritual enrichment confers a benefit upon my employer and my law practice......well it doesn't quite work that way......:>)

"It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking I will hear."  Isaiah 65-24.  So let's hear what the Board has to say and what came to pass in three very pithy little decisions:

#1 Tracy Dietel v. Chartwell Law Offices, IAB# 1362880 (6/27/11) also known as the case of the disgruntled paralegal.  Ms. Dietel left the office in the early afternoon to meet a windshield repair man in a parking lot neither owned nor controlled by her employer law firm.  The fractured windshield had nothing to do with her employment and constituted a personal errand.  There is a splendid reiteration of the "going and coming rule", which did not apply because the employee had already arrived at work.  There was no dispute that claimant slipped and fell on a public sidewalk after paying the windshield repair man.  The claimant advanced a "personal comfort doctrine" argument and the Board concluded that this doctrine only applies while the claimant is on the employer premises.  The bottom line was that under the "premises rule" this injury was outside the course and cope of employment.  Next time, Ms. Dietel, check into valet service and avoid the peril of Ninth and West Streets during lunch hour.......

#2 Charles Bartlett III v. Delaware Home Crafters, IAB#1358405 (6/23/11) known as the Buffalo Wild Wings case.  The claimant was rear-ended on Summit Bridge Road at approximately 8:15 a.m. after reportedly being asked to change his work activity from a Dover site to an assignment in Bear.  Claimant testified he was headed to Buffalo Wild Wings to meet a co-worker who would be able to direct him to the specific job site after another co-worker had dropped him home after the two had set out for Dover.  The accident occurred roughly 2 miles from his home in Middletown.  The employer's defense had to do with a lack of recollection regarding the claimant switching job sites.  Much discussion here of the law of "going and coming" and how it works for a travelling employee who has a semi-fixed place of employment.  The circumstances of this motor vehicle accident were held to fit squarely within the "special errand" exception of the going and coming rule.  Suggestion for next time?  Meet at the Dunkin Donuts-- best place to find coffee at 8:00 a.m.

#3 Gloria Ashe v. Fresnius Medical Care, IAB# 1363681 (6/17/11) also known as the "Brother can you spare a ride?" case.  In Ashe there was a factual dispute as to whether claimant slipped and fell while on a sidewalk leading to the employer's lot or instead, as the employer asserted, while en route to catch a bus home, or alternatively, while walking to the nearby fast food restaurant to be picked up by a friend .  This particular claimant often utilized public transportation for her workplace commute but testified that on the day in question, she had taken her own vehicle and was parked in the lot specified by the employer for its work force.  The employer's only rebuttal was based on supposition and claimant's normal practice of not driving herself to work, given that there was no witness who saw her arrive or leave on the date of injury.  Benefits were awarded.  Suggestion for employer? A surveillance camera for the parking lot might not be a bad idea.

So, for a quick tutorial on the law of "going and coming" and the exceptions thereto, check this one out.  These cases are invariably fact-driven and hinge on credibility but nonetheless, it is never a bad idea to know the law and know it well........

Hope you are all enjoying your summer and wishing safe travels to the beach-bound!

Sassy Cassy
Cassandra F. Roberts

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

Cassandra in front of the Charles Stanley Book Tour van following her own recent junket to Baltimore to meet Dr. Stanley at a Barnes & Noble book signing.....  She is also now the proud owner of an autographed Charles Stanley Life Principles Bible and remains his most ardent "groupie".

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