FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
& Wells, PLLC, by: Phillip Wells, for appellant.
Worley, Wood & Parrish, P.A., by: Jarrod S. Parrish, for
F. VIRDEN, Judge
Donna Sue Fulbright appeals the decision of the Arkansas
Workers' Compensation Commission (the Commission) denying
her claim for benefits associated with an injury that she
asserts she sustained while she was performing employment
services within the course of her employment with St.
Bernard's Medical Center. The Commission found that
Fulbright failed to prove that she had sustained a
compensable injury. On appeal to this court, Fulbright argues
that the Commission failed to conduct a proper review and
that the Commission's findings are not supported by
substantial evidence. After reviewing the evidence presented,
we disagree and affirm.
Sue Fulbright worked at St. Bernard's Medical Center (St.
Bernard's) as a laundry aide in 2014 when she tripped and
fell on her way to the cafeteria to get a snack during a
break. On the day of the accident, Fulbright had clocked out
and walked across the street to smoke. Fulbright clocked
back in when she returned from smoking and then she resumed
her break on the campus. As Fulbright was walking inside the
hospital near the admission desk, she tripped on the edge of
a carpet and fell, fracturing her left hip and femur.
Fulbright testified that though she was not directly
benefitting St. Bernard's during her break, she was
indirectly benefitting her employer by getting something to
eat so that she could have energy to do the physical labor
associated with her work. Fulbright testified that she had
eaten a Pop-Tart that morning before work but that she needed
to eat again before lunch in order to do her job. On
cross-examination, Fulbright testified that she carried out
her duties mostly in the laundry room but that she also
delivered linens to various floors at the hospital. Fulbright
admitted that she was not carrying out any tasks related to
her job activity when she went to the cafeteria and that she
was not required to perform any job duties during her break,
nor were other coworkers ever called back during breaks to do
testified that she did not have any medical conditions that
required her to eat every two or three hours, nor would she
have passed out if she had not eaten before her lunch break.
Witcher, the team leader in the laundry facility at St.
Bernard's, testified that Fulbright's job was to feed
sheets through an ironing machine and that it was not a
strenuous job. Witcher testified that Fulbright's work
duties were not so demanding that one would need to stop and
eat to continue working, though the work was continuous all
6, 2016, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Andrew Blood found
that Fulbright "did not sustain an injury arising out of
and in the course of her employment with [St. Bernard's]
in that she was not performing employment services at the
time of her accidental fall."
Commission affirmed and adopted the decision of the ALJ,
though Commissioner Phillip Hood dissented stating that he
would have found that Fulbright had been obtaining food to
sustain herself for a physically demanding job, thus, her
activity while she was injured had been to the benefit of her
employer and necessary for her work.
filed a timely notice of appeal.
Points on Appeal
first point on appeal, Fulbright argues that the Commission
erred when it adopted the ALJ's findings of fact and
conclusions of law and failed to conduct a de novo review of
the record and make findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Commission is permitted to adopt the decision of the ALJ,
thereby making the law judge's findings and conclusions
those of the Commission. Death & Permanent Total
Disability Trust Fund v. Branum,82 Ark.App. 338, 107
S.W.3d 876 (2003). There is no indication that the Commission
did not conduct a de novo review, and as is set forth above,