Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division
FROM THE LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION, AFFIRMED.
2011, Bryan Keith Hedrick, Jr. ("Claimant")
"intentionally [lit] a can of glue held in a
co-worker's hand on fire with a lighter" at the Big
O Tires ("Employer") shop in
Camdenton. His startled co-worker
dropped the flaming can, which exploded on impact and
severely burned both men. Claimant now appeals the final
award of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission
("the Commission") denying his claim for
workers' compensation benefits. See section
Claimant's point on appeal claims the Commission erred
"in concluding that [Claimant's] injury did not
arise out of and in the course of the employment" under
section 287.020.3(2) because Claimant "would not have
been equally exposed to the injury in normal non-employment
life." Because Claimant's intentional ignition of
the glue was not an "accident[,
]" as that term is defined in section
287.020.2, we affirm the decision of the Commission.
Principles of Review and Governing Law
A reviewing court may modify, reverse, remand for rehearing,
or set aside a workers' compensation award upon a finding
that: (1) the commission acted without or in excess of its
powers; (2) the award was procured by fraud; (3) the
commission's factual findings do not support the award;
or (4) there was not sufficient competent evidence in the
record to warrant the making of the award. [Section
287.495.1.] "Whether the award is supported by competent
and substantial evidence is judged by examining the evidence
in the context of the whole record. An award that is contrary
to the overwhelming weight of the evidence is, in context,
not supported by competent and substantial evidence."
Greer v. SYSCO Food Services, 475 S.W.3d 655, 664
(Mo. banc 2015) (quoting Hampton v. Big Boy Steel
Erection, 121 S.W.3d 220, 223 (Mo. banc 2003) (footnote
omitted)). We review the Commission's findings and award,
including any findings of the ALJ affirmed and adopted by the
Commission. Small v. Red Simpson, Inc., 484 S.W.3d
341, 344 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015). In doing so, we defer to the
Commission's factual findings, credibility
determinations, and weighing of conflicting evidence.
Greer, 475 S.W.3d at 664.
determination of whether an incident was "a compensable
accident under the Workers' Compensation Law" and an
injury arose out of the claimant's employment are
questions of law that we review de novo. Young
v. Boone Elec. Coop., 462 S.W.3d 783, 786, 788 (Mo. App.
W.D. 2015). We will not reverse the Commission's decision
if it "reaches the right result even if it gave a wrong
or insufficient reason for its ruling." Ellis v. Mo.
State Treasurer, 302 S.W.3d 217, 220 (Mo. App. S.D.
Summary and Procedural History
outset of the evidentiary hearing before the ALJ, counsel for
the parties confirmed "that the issues to be resolved .
. . are the occurrence of an accident, and the causation of
the injuries alleged."
testified that he worked for Employer fixing tires,
performing vehicle alignments and oil changes, and doing
"[g]eneral mechanic work[.]" Fixing tires sometimes
required using an adhesive, and multiple techniques were used
to dry the adhesive, including simply waiting or
"light[ing] it on fire [to] make it very sticky and
tacky[.]" When this was done, the glue can was "put
back in a cabinet away from where" the applied glue was
being dried. Claimant had seen a similar technique used at
another tire shop, and he had used such a technique at
Employer's shop. He sometimes used his own lighter, and
he sometimes used a lighter from Employer's shop.
employee, Kyle Uchtmann, testified that mechanics were not
supposed to use a lighter on tire glue, but he had seen it
being used in that way at a tire shop. The manager of
Employer's shop, Benjamin Pruitt, had witnessed employees
"using a lighter during the tire patching
process[.]" There was testimony from these employees and
Claimant that other flammable tasks were sometimes performed
in connection with the repairs made in the shop.
said that he had previously engaged in "horseplay on the
job" at Employer's shop, and such horseplay included
"squirting people with the washer fluid hose, putting
stuff on door handles to make them slick, . . . snapping a
rag or something[, ]" and using a "large air
tank" to shoot "under the bathroom door to make a
dust cloud or . . . blow their clothes up[.]" Claimant
had witnessed another employee, Steve Milazzo, engaging in
Pruitt testified that there had been "occasional joking
around" at the shop, but "[n]othing [he] would
consider harmful or dangerous, no." Mr. Pruitt testified
that the horseplay had involved Claimant and an assistant
manager, Steven Moore, "wrestling around[, ]" and
Mr. Pruitt thought "that someone potentially could get
hurt wrestling around[.]" When Mr. Pruitt became aware
of the wrestling, he reprimanded Claimant and ...