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Scholastic, Inc. v. Viley

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division

October 28, 2014

SCHOLASTIC, INC., Appellant,
v.
DAVID VILEY, Respondent

Appeal From: LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS.

Stephen McManus, St. Louis, MO, Counsel for Appellant.

Jonathan McQuilkin, Columbia, MO, Counsel for Respondent.

Before: Alok Ahuja, C.J. Presiding, Joseph M. Ellis, and James Edward Welsh, JJ. All concur.

OPINION

James Edward Welsh, Judge

Page 681

Scholastic, Inc., appeals the decision of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission awarding workers' compensation benefits to its employee, David Viley, for a knee injury that he suffered when he slipped and fell in the parking lot as he was leaving work. We affirm.

Background

David Viley worked in the customer service call center at the Moberly location of Scholastic, Inc. (" Scholastic" ). His regular work shift was from noon to 9:00 p.m. At the end of his shift on February 18, 2010, Viley walked outside to leave for the evening. As he walked across the adjacent parking lot headed for his vehicle, he

Page 682

slipped and fell on snow and ice, injuring his right knee. Viley ultimately required surgery on the knee.

Viley filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits, and Scholastic denied the claim. Prior to the hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ" ), the parties stipulated that the issues to be decided were whether the " extension of premises" provision applied and whether Viley's injury came from " a hazard or risk unrelated to the employment" to which he would have been " equally exposed" in his nonemployment life.[1]

Viley testified at the hearing that on the evening of his injury, he left the building, walked west along the sidewalk and across the roadway into the south parking lot, where he " always" parked. Viley stated that there had been an accumulation of snow and ice in the parking lot when he arrived at work that day and that the snow and ice was still present when he left that evening. Viley testified that the parking lot was poorly lit and had been plowed only in " pathways." Viley testified that he was walking on a " bladed area" near the entrance of the south lot when he slipped on the snow and ice and fell. According to Viley, his feet " went out" from underneath him, he fell back, and he landed on his knee. The next day, when Viley could not move his leg, he called his doctor. An MRI revealed a torn meniscus. Following surgery on his knee, Viley's doctor eventually released him to return to work.

Keith Porting, director of operations at Scholastic's Moberly plant, testified via deposition that his duties include maintaining the facility, budget, and operations. He explained that the site where Scholastic is located consists of one large main building surrounded by several small buildings and multiple parking areas. Porting stated that, at the time of Viley's accident, Scholastic was leasing the western portion of the building. A copy of the lease agreement (" Lease" ) between Scholastic and its landlord (" Landlord" ) was admitted at Porting's deposition. Porting's testimony was primarily aimed at establishing that Scholastic neither owned nor controlled the parking lot on which Viley fell.

The ALJ denied Viley's claim, finding his injury to be non-compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act (" Act" ), § 287.010, et seq., RSMo.[2] On appeal, the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission disagreed and awarded compensation. The Commission found that because Scholastic controls the parking lot on which Viley fell, the injury was compensable under the " extended premises" provision of the Act. ยง 287.020.5. The Commission also found that Viley's injury arose out of a hazard or risk related to his ...


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