Appeal from Superior Court of Thurston County. Docket No: 92-2-00806-5. Date filed: 02/21/95. Judge signing: Hon. Paula K. Casey.
Petition for Review Denied May 7, 1997,
Authored by David H. Armstrong. Concurring: Karen G. Seinfeld. Dissenting: John E. Turner
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Armstrong
ARMSTRONG, J. -- For disciplinary reasons, the Department of Corrections assigned Charles Johnson to stay at home and perform no departmental work during his normal working hours. During this time, Johnson amputated three fingers while working on a personal project at his workbench. Johnson was awarded worker's compensation, but the Department challenged the award. The trial court reversed, finding that Johnson was not acting in the course of his employment. We agree that Johnson was not acting in the course of his employment and, therefore, affirm.
Charles Johnson was employed as a Corrections Officer at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, Washington. On June 13, 1990, the Department placed Johnson on administrative home leave for disciplinary reasons. The Department instructed him to remain available for contact by telephone at all times during his scheduled work shift, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Department also instructed Johnson "to perform no department work unless specifically assigned by his supervisor."
While at home, Johnson was paid his normal salary and he accrued sick and vacation leave. Johnson had to use this leave if he wanted to be away from his home during his scheduled work hours. On August 6, 1990, during his workshift, Johnson accidentally amputated three of his fingers while working on a personal project at his home workbench.
The Department of Labor and Industries rejected Johnson's claim for benefits, reasoning that Johnson was not in the course of employment when he was injured. The Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals reversed, finding that, because the Department had assigned Johnson to his home and ordered him to perform no Department work, he was injured in the course of his employment. The Department appealed the Board's decision and the trial court reversed the compensation award, holding that Johnson was not acting in the course of his employment when he was injured. Johnson appeals.
The Industrial Insurance Act, chapter 51 RCW, is to be construed liberally in order to achieve its purpose of providing compensation to all covered employees injured in their employment, with doubts resolved in favor of the employee. Dennis v. Department of Labor and Indus., 109 Wash. 2d 467, 470, 745 P.2d 1295 (1987). RCW 51.32.010 provides that "each worker injured in the course of his or her employment" shall receive worker's compensation. To receive compensation, this statute requires that the injury occur while the worker was within the "course of employment."
Dennis, 109 Wash. 2d at 470; see also 1 Arthur Larson, The Law of Workmen's Compensation, sec. 14.00 at 4-1 (1990) (the course of employment requirement tests work-connection as to time, place and activity). As otherwise stated, the injury must arise within the time and space boundaries of the employment and in the course of an activity whose purpose is related to the employment. 1 Larson, sec. 14.00 at 4-1. Unlike most other states, Washington's worker's compensation act does not possess an "arising out of employment" requirement. Dennis, 109 Wash. 2d at 480.
Accordingly, cases from other states are not helpful.
Under RCW 51.08.013, "acting in the course of ...