Rosar v. Southview Acres Health Care Ctr. - WCCA affirms Compensation Judge’s findings that hurrying was not a causative factor in a fall at work and that the injury did not arise out the employment
Rosar v. Southview Acres Health Care Ctr. (https://mn.gov/workcomp-stat/2018/Rosar%20-%2009-21-18.html)
In a September 21, 2018 decision, the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) affirmed Judge Sandra Grove’s decision that an injury sustained as a result of a fall while “walking fast” or “hurrying” was not compensable as there was no causal connection between the “hurrying” and the fall.
Bonnie Rosar worked as a nursing assistant for Southview Acres Health Care Center. She testified that as a nursing assistant she “always walked fast.” On August 2, 2017, she was walking down a hallway at work to punch out for the day. The hallway floor was carpeted, non-slippery, flat, dry and debris-free. While walking down the hall, the employee fell and sustained injury resulting in medical expenses and three months of lost time from work. The employee testified that although she was walking at her usual pace, she did not know why she fell.
Judge Grove denied the employee’s claim, concluding that the injury did not arise out of the employment pursuant to Dykhoff v. Xcel Energy. In doing so, Judge Grove, relying on the employee’s testimony, determined that there was insufficient evidence to establish a causal connection between hurrying and the fall, thus making the fall unexplained.
On appeal, the Employee again argued that she was “walking fast” and “hurrying” on her way to punch out. Relying on prior WCCA decisions in Kubis, Williams and Erven, the Employee argued that hurrying while walking, by itself, presented an increased risk of injury. In rejecting this argument and affirming Judge Grove’ decision, the WCCA did not specifically decide whether hurrying, by itself, would constitute an increased risk of injury in every case. Rather, the court focused on the Employee’s testimony that she did not know why she fell and did not connect hurrying to her fall. Citing Dykhoff and Roller-Dick, the WCCA emphasized that unexplained falls are not compensable under Minnesota workers’ compensation law. Walking on a non-slippery, flat, dry and debris-free floor is a neutral condition and, absent an increased risk of injury, injuries in a neutral setting are not compensable. Although the hurrying was argued to be the hazard, substantial evidence supported the compensation Judge’s determination that the Employee failed to establish a causal connection between hurrying and the fall. In turn, the WCCA affirmed Judge Grove’s decision.