BEFORE PATTERSON, HAWKINS AND PRATHER
PRATHER, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:
The primary issues of this appeal are the applicability
of the" going and coming "rule and the constitutionality of the prior, unamended version of Miss. Code Ann. 71-3-25. David B. Wilson, husband of the deceased Cynthia Gail Wilson, and Joseph Laird Wilson, minor son of the deceased, perfect this workmen's compensation appeal from the Circuit Court of Jones County.
This case evolved from the death of Cynthia Gail Wilson, a reporter for WDAM Television in the Laurel/Hattiesburg area. Mrs. Wilson began working for WDAM between 1975 and 1976 as a full-time news reporter. During her tenure as a full-time reporter Cynthia earned a monthly salary of $1,000, plus $50 a month car allowance and sometimes $30 to $40 overtime. Additionally, $55 was paid by WDAM toward health insurance, Mrs. Wilson had use of a gasoline credit card, and she participated in the company pension plan.
In 1979, Mrs. Wilson became pregnant. She and her employer agreed that when the baby came she would take a two-month maternity leave before returning to work full-time. In mid-March, 1980, complications arose. At that time, Joseph Laird Wilson was born approximately nine weeks prematurely. Medical complications with Joseph required Mrs. Wilson's constant care and assistance and she was unable to return to work as planned.
In May, 1980, Mrs. Wilson resigned her employment with WDAM stating that she could not expect the station to hold her job open indefinitely. The bookkeeping department settled accounts with Mrs. Wilson by sending her a check for some earned vacation, less some insurance premiums. Also, the company managing the WDAM pension fund was notified to close out her account. Bob Ford, the news director, then hired another reporter to fill Mrs. Wilson's position.
In January, 1981, Cynthia Wilson returned to work on a part-time basis. A special position was created for her in order that her schedule be flexible. She worked on stories assigned to her by Bob Ford and she was authorized to establish and develop her own stories. In this part-time capacity, Mrs. Wilson was paid $7 per hour, the interpolated amount of her past salary of $1,000 per month. She received, however, no car allowance. No premiums were paid on her behalf for health insurance and she did not participate in the company pension fund. Her average weekly salary while working part-time was $52.50.
On Thursday, March 19, 1981, Mrs. Wilson talked on the
telephone with Bob Ford and agreed to go to the station to edit a newspaper report to be aired on the Friday evening news. She also made arrangements with her aunt to baby-sit while she went to the station.
The next day, Friday, March 20, 1981, Mrs. Wilson was killed en route to the television station. One of the tires on the car she was driving sustained a blow-out causing Mrs. Wilson to veer into opposing traffic and crash head-on with another vehicle.
The claimants, the widower and the infant son of Mrs. Wilson, commenced this action in September of 1981. The case was first heard before an administrative judge and then before the full Mississippi Workmen's Compensation Commission. The case was next appealed to the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Jones County.
The case, now before this Court, raises the following legal issues:
(1) Did the death of Mrs. Wilson arise out of and in the course and scope of her employment with WDAM?
(2) Was the average weekly wage of Mrs. Wilson correctly computed?
(3) Did the circuit court and the Worker's Compensation Commission err in requiring appellants to prove dependency?
(4) Did the circuit court err in denying appellants funeral expenses and death benefits?
(5) Did the circuit court err in failing to require appellees to pay penalties and interest?
Did the death of Mrs. Wilson arise out of and in the course and scope of her ...