U.S. Bank v. Pohrman

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Workers Compensation
  • Date Filed: 06-24-2015
  • Case #: A151443
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Egan, J., for the Court; decided En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

To determine whether an employee's injury sustained during a paid break is compensable, the Worker's Compensation Board must first determine whether the employee was injured during the scope of employment, and then must determine whether employee was on a "personal mission" or if the personal comfort doctrine applies.

Employee filed a compensation claim after she was injured while on break from work at employer bank. Employee regularly took her required breaks in a coffee shop, which was in the same building as the bank. Employee often met a friend who also worked for employer at the coffee shop. Employer was aware that employees often visited this coffee shop while on break. Employee’s injury happened when she slipped and fell in the lobby of the building on her way to the coffee shop. Employer bank denied employee’s compensation claim, stating that the injury was outside the course and scope of employment. An administrative law judge (ALJ) confirmed, stating that employee was “engaged in a social activity performed primarily for her personal pleasure.” The Worker’s Compensation Board reversed, deciding that claimant’s activity was within the scope of employment because she was on a paid, mandatory break. The Board held that the incident was “a regular incident of her employment, and was not the type of ‘social’ activity that the legislature intended to exclude from a compensable injury.” Employer appealed this decision, arguing that the Board erred in its judgment that employee’s injuries were compensable. On appeal, the Court held that the Board failed to consider whether the activity was sufficiently connected to the scope of employment, and, if it satisfied this requirement, whether employee was injured while on a “personal mission,” or if the personal comfort doctrine applied. Reversed and remanded.

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