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An Ohio appellate court ruled that a traveling employee did not suffer an injury in the course of or arising out of his employment when he fell in a restaurant parking lot while having lunch with a colleague.
Durbin Kerr worked for OhioHealth Corp. as a social worker in the hospice department, a job that required him to travel to see patients, according to Kerr v. OhioHealth Corp., filed in the Court of Appeals for the 10th District of Ohio in Columbus.
Mr. Kerr drove his personal vehicle to visit four or five patients a day. OhioHealth reimbursed him for mileage and provided him with a cellphone and laptop computer.
On Jan. 25, 2019, Mr. Kerr and a chaplain for the hospice drove to visit patients. After finishing their morning appointments, they decided to go to lunch at a restaurant that was on the way to their next appointment.
Mr. Kerr slipped and fell on ice in the restaurant parking lot. After lunch, Mr. Kerr went to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a concussion and a right wrist fracture.
A district hearing officer denied his workers compensation claim, a staff hearing officer affirmed, and the Industrial Commission declined to consider any further administrative appeals.
Mr. Kerr then filed a complaint in a trial court, asserting he had a right to workers comp for the injuries he sustained in the fall.
A trial judge granted summary judgment for OhioHealth, finding Mt. Kerr’s injuries did not occur in the course and scope of his employment, as required by law.
The appeals court agreed, writing: “Kerr was not provided a formal lunch hour by OhioHealth. OhioHealth did not reimburse Kerr for lunch, Kerr did not deduct his lunches as a business expense, and OhioHealth did not have any policies regarding where Kerr could eat lunch,” the court noted.
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