Minnesota Supreme Court Issues Workers’ Compensation Decision Kubis v. Community Memorial Hospital Association

Kubis v. Community Memorial Hospital Association, Case No. A16-0361

In Kubis v. Community Memorial Hospital Association, Case No. A16-0361, Kubis fell and injured her shoulder while rushing up a staircase at the workplace of her employer, Community Memorial Hospital Association.

The issue before the compensation judge was whether Kubis’s right shoulder condition was a compensable work injury arising out of her employment. During the Hearing, Kubis testified that she needed to go to the second floor to complete her report to the next shift and clock out. She further testified she was “afraid of overtime.” Prior to her fall, there had been general discussions about limiting overtime, specifically, “unnecessary overtime.” However, Kubis had been authorized to work overtime in order to stay and complete her documentation. In fact, Kubis had worked overtime in 10 of the 13 pay periods preceding her fall. The compensation judge found her “claim that she was rushing up the stairs because she felt pressured to do so because of the hospital policy encouraging employees … to log out on a timely basis at the end of their shifts is not credible.” The compensation judge concluded Kubis failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that her injury was caused by an increased risk that arose out of her employment, therefore her injuries were not compensable.

The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals concluded that Kubis “was rushed to report to the next shift” and held that, “[w]here an employee who normally avoids the stairs due to knee problems, takes them because she feels rushed to report to the next shift, and in the process runs up the stairs and falls, the arising out of element is established.” Accordingly, the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals reversed the compensation judge’s decision and found that Kubis’s injury arose out of her employment.

The Minnesota Supreme Court reinstated the decision of the compensation judge. The Court concluded that the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals impermissibly substituted its own view of the evidence for that of the compensation judge. The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals exceeded its standard of review, particularly because the compensation judge did not find the testimony offered by Kubis regarding her concerns about overtime to be credible.

This case was a 4-3 decision. The dissent notes Minnesota should adopt the positional-risk test over the increased risk test. Under the positional-risk test, an employee satisfies both the “arising out of” and “in the course of” requirements without regard to risk if the injury would not have occurred but for the fact that the conditions and obligations of the employer placed the employee in the position where the employee was injured.

Please contact attorney Lauren N. Harvey about any questions: Direct Phone: 952-345-9755 or email lnh@mccollumlaw.com

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