TRIBUNAL FROM WHICH APPEALED: MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/18/2013. TRIBUNAL DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED THE ORDER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE FINDING THAT APPELLEE/CLAIMANT SUSTAINED A COMPENSABLE, WORK-RELATED INJURY.
FOR APPELLANTS: GEORGE E. READ, GINGER MOORE ROBEY.
FOR APPELLEE: SHANDA M. YATES, YANCY B. BURNS.
GRIFFIS, P.J., FOR THE COURT. LEE, C.J., IRVING, P.J., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. CARLTON, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION. MAXWELL, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WORKERS' COMPENSATION
[¶1] Linde Gas and Zurich American Insurance Company appeal the determination by the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission that Larry Edmonds suffered a compensable, work-related injury. At issue here is whether the Commission erred in finding that Edmonds, based on an exception of the " going and coming" rule, was within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident; and whether the Commission erred in finding that Edmonds did not act with willful intent to cause injury to himself.
[¶2] Since 2007, Edmonds was employed by Linde Gas. He was an instrumentation technician. Edmonds was responsible for maintaining the instruments at the Linde Gas plant that supplied oxygen, nitrogen, and argon, through a pipeline, to the steel plants in Columbus, Brandon, Vicksburg, and north Mississippi.
[¶3] Edmonds was primarily assigned to the plant in Columbus. Edmonds would travel to the Columbus plant every other week and work his normal schedule -- Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 or 3:30 p.m. He would report and travel to the plant locations in Brandon, Vicksburg, and north Mississippi during the alternating weeks. In addition to this work schedule, Edmonds was on call as needed to return to the plant to make repairs after his normal work day had concluded.
[¶4] Linde Gas assigned Edmonds a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck when he began employment in 2007, as they do for all the instrument technicians. Linde Gas authorized Edmonds, and the other instrument technicians, to use the truck to travel to and from work to the Columbus plant and the other plants. Linde Gas paid Edmonds for his travel time when he responded to emergency calls. However, Linde Gas did not pay Edmonds for travel time to and from his regular work. Linde Gas paid for the fuel for the truck through a Fuel Man gas card provided to Edmonds upon receipt of the truck. Linde Gas maintained insurance coverage on the truck and paid for all of the maintenance on the truck. Edmonds also carried all of his work tools and equipment in the truck.
[¶5] In the petition to controvert, Edmonds alleged that he sustained an injury to his back on October 21, 2010. Edmonds was involved in an automobile accident while he was on his way to the Columbus plant to report to work. He alleged that the accident occurred within the course and scope of his employment with Linde Gas.
[¶6] Linde Gas denied that Edmonds sustained a work-related injury or that his
claim was compensable based on the " going and coming" rule. Linde Gas asserted that Edmonds was not in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident.
[¶7] Edmonds testified that he was scheduled to work at the Columbus plant on October 21, 2010. Edmonds testified that the previous day had been a hard day at work and that he did not sleep well, as he only got five hours of sleep. Because of previous work-related back injuries, Edmonds had ongoing back pain and said that he had been unable to fall asleep until 1:00 am. Edmonds awoke that morning at 5:45 a.m. and ...