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Best W. Inn v. Paul

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

October 1, 2014

BEST WESTERN INN AND UNION INSURANCE OF PROVIDENCE/EMPLOYERS MUTUAL CASUALTY CO., APPELLANTS
v.
CHRISTINA PAUL, APPELLEE

APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. NO. G208081.

Anderson, Murphy & Hopkins, L.L.P., by: Randy P. Murphy and Kyle E. Burton, for appellants.

Jensen Young & Houston, PLLC, by: Terence C. Jensen, for appellee.

RITA W. GRUBER, Judge. WHITEAKER and VAUGHT, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 552

RITA W. GRUBER, Judge

Appellants Best Western Inn and Union Insurance of Providence/Employers Mutual Casualty Co. appeal from the decision of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission adopting the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that appellee Christina Paul was performing employment services at the time of her injury. The only issue on appeal is whether substantial evidence supports the Commission's decision. We affirm the decision of the Commission.

Appellee worked as a housekeeper for Best Western. She was injured on September 13, 2012, when she slipped and fell on water while walking down a concrete stairway headed to the laundry room. Her right knee " hit the concrete full force." Medical treatment was initially provided by appellants, but, after an investigation, appellants controverted entitlement to additional benefits. They claimed that appellee was not acting in the course and scope of her employment at the time of the incident because she was taking food

Page 553

to the laundry room refrigerator for her own benefit when she fell.

At the hearing before the ALJ, the evidence established that appellee had injured her right knee in 2009 by jumping off a horse. Her treating doctor at the time recommended surgery to repair her ACL and medial meniscus, but appellee chose to put off the surgery. In March 2012, she consulted Dr. Scott Walsh, who began treating her and performed surgery on March 30, 2012. Dr. Walsh performed a right knee arthroscopy with ACL reconstruction.

Appellee testified that on September 13, 2012, she was cleaning a room and discovered she needed more towels. So she went downstairs to the laundry room to retrieve them. She testified that she was also carrying food she had found in one of the hotel rooms to put in the refrigerator in the laundry room. She denied that the food was for her own personal use, testified that she had never taken anything from a hotel room for her own personal use, and confirmed that her primary purpose in going to the laundry room was to get clean towels. After appellee fell, she reported it to the hotel manager, Jan Leach.

Ms. Leach testified that she witnessed the fall on a hotel-surveillance video and noticed that appellee had dropped food when she fell. Ms. Leach testified that it was not hotel policy or part of appellee's job to save food for a guest. Two housekeepers testified that they heard appellee scream when she fell and went to help her. They saw that she had fallen and had food in her hands. Both testified that it was not part of appellee's job to carry food to the refrigerator. Both also testified that it was part of their job to get towels from the laundry room.

According to records of Saline Memorial Hospital, on September 13, 2012, appellee's right knee was x-rayed and she was diagnosed with a knee sprain. She was discharged and referred to Dr. Walsh. Dr. Walsh saw appellee on September 17, 2012, and noted that she had a lot of pain and swelling. He also noted that he was " worried about ACL re-tear" and he thought that " an MRI [was] important for us to understand ...


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