Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Special Tasks and Personal Comfort

This week the Court of Civil Appeals, Division I, issued an unpublished opinion in the case of K-Mart Corporation v. Herring, Case No. 105,120.

CAUTION: Unpublished cases do not establish precedent and by rules of the Oklahoma Supreme Court cannot even be cited as legal authority in appellate briefs. The specific holdings of unpublished cases are not the law in Oklahoma; however they often provide insight into the reasoning of the appellate panel. This particular case contains an excellent discussion of the general rules for the special task exception to the "arising out of" requirement for compensabilty of an alleged work-injury and for the personal comfort exception to the "in the course of" requirement.

Mark Herring was assigned to job duties in the K-Mart parking lot. He left the lot to get something to eat and to use the restroom. Herring was shot during a hijack attempt while in the drive through of a fast-food restaurant. Trial judge denied the claim stating that claimant "clearly deviated from any employment related purpose when he went to the McDonald's restaurant for a meal." Panel vacated and remanded for a finding of "a special task and a personal comfort mission thus a compensable injury . . ." The COCA reinstated the trial court's denial of compensability.

Again, the specific ruling is not as important as the clear, cogent review by Judge Glen Adams of the special task and personal comfort rules.

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