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Rough Ride Home

 Injury during Ride Home Compensable because Employer Arranged Travel: NORTH



An employer who made arrangements to use the company's cargo van to take employees home after a snow storm shut down the airport where they worked must pay workers' compensation benefits to an employee who hurt her back while being jostled in the cargo area of the van during the trip.


Case: Matter of Noboa v. International Shoppes, No. 518185, 11/06/2014, published.



Facts: Rosario Noboa worked as a sales associate for the International Shoppes store at the John F. Kennedy Airport.


On a day when the airport was shut down due to the weather, the store closed early and sent its workers home. The workers, however, were paid as though they had worked a full day.


The storm had caused the public transit system to shut down too, and Noboa normally relied on public transit to get home. The store made arrangements for Noboa and some other stranded employees to get rides in a company van that was ordinarily used to transport merchandise.


The van had no passenger seats, and Noboa injured her spine as a result of being repeatedly thrown against the van door during the ride.


Procedural History: Noboa filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits based on her injury. A workers' compensation law judge disallowed her claim, finding her injury did not arise out of and in the course of Noboa's employment.


The Workers' Compensation Board reversed the judge and awarded benefits. International Shoppes then appealed.


Analysis: The Appellate Division's 3rd Department acknowledged that generally, an employee's travel to and from work will not be considered to be within the scope of employment and, thus, injuries sustained during that period are not compensable. However, the court explained, "an exception arises when the employer takes responsibility for transporting employees, particularly where the employer is in exclusive control of the means of conveyance."


In this case, the court noted, it was undisputed that International Shoppes furnished the van for transportation, one of Noboa's supervisors was the driver and Noboa's injuries were sustained during the course of that transportation while she was still on the clock and being paid.


"Inasmuch as the employer took responsibility for the inherent risks of transporting its employees from the work site and had exclusive control of the conveyance, we find no reason to disturb the Board's determination that claimant's

injury arose out of and in the course of her employment," the court said.


Disposition: Affirmed.


To read the decision, click here.

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