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Tommy Brooks Oil Co. v. Leach

September 29, 1998

TOMMY BROOKS OIL COMPANY AND FEDERATED MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY APPELLANTS
v.
CHARLES WARREN LEACH, DECEASED AND LARISA LEACH APPELLEE



Thomas, P.j., King, And Southwick, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas, P.j., For The Court

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/16/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. BARRY W. FORD

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LEE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WORKERS' COMPENSATION

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: CLAIMANT SUFFERED COMPENSABLE INJURY ARISING OUT OF COURSE AND SCOPE OF EMPLOYMENT.

DISPOSITION REVERSED AND REINSTATED - 9/29/98

¶1. Tommy Brooks Oil Company and Federated Mutual Insurance Company appeal the decision of the circuit court raising the following issues as error: I. THE CIRCUIT COURT OF LEE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI APPLIED THE INCORRECT STANDARD OF REVIEW IN REVERSING THE DECISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. II. SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE EXISTED TO SUPPORT THE DECISION OF THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION.

¶2. Finding error, we reverse and reinstate the order of the Workers' Compensation Commission.

FACTS

¶3. Charles Warren Leach began work as a maintenance mechanic for Tommy Brooks Oil Company in April 1991. Leach's primary duties were to assist in the installation, repair, and maintenance of pumps and equipment that the employer had in operation. Leach's normal working hours were from eight to five. Leach was also supplied with a company truck to travel to and from job sites, as well as to and from his home.

¶4. On December 24, 1991, Tommy Brooks Oil Company hosted a small Christmas party which began around noon. The employees were given their holiday bonuses and snacks were served. There was no indication that alcoholic beverages were served. After the party the employees were dismissed for the holiday.

¶5. Around 2:00 p.m. that afternoon, Leach was involved in a one-vehicle automobile accident. The accident occurred east of the employer's place of business while Leach was driving west. The site of the accident was on a possible route from Tommy Brooks Oil Company to Leach's home. Leach was hospitalized from December 24, 1991 until his death on January 10, 1992. When Leach was admitted to the hospital, his blood alcohol level was .20%, twice the legal limit. At the time of the accident Leach was driving his company truck.

ΒΆ6. Laressa Leach, decedent's widow, filed a workers' compensation claim for death benefits. At the hearing before the administrative law Judge, Laressa testified that Leach would sometimes be called out by his employer after-hours and on weekends. This testimony was disputed by co-workers James T. Johnson and Paul Clayton (both had some duties of supervision over mechanics employed by Tommy Brooks Oil Company). They testified that although they could not say Leach had never been called out after-hours, they had no recollection of it ever happening. Johnson also testified that he asked Leach to come shoot pool with him after the Christmas party, but Leach declined saying he was going to a deer camp. Clayton also testified that Leach had ...


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