FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
Goldberg & Dohan, by: Andy L. Caldwell, for appellant.
Charles H. McLemore Jr., for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge.
Lisa Webster was denied workers' compensation benefits.
Appellant appeals from a November 22, 2016 opinion by the
Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission)
affirming and adopting the findings of fact and conclusions
of law made by the administrative law judge (ALJ) in favor of
appellees Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) and Public
Employee Claims Division. On appeal, appellant contends that
substantial evidence does not support the Commission's
decision that she was not performing employment services at
the time of her injury. We affirm.
facts of this case are largely undisputed. Although no one
contests that appellant sustained an injury to her left knee
when she slipped on ice and fell in the parking lot of her
employer, there is a dispute as to whether she was performing
employment-related services at the time of the injury. A
hearing was held before the ALJ, and only appellant testified
at the hearing.
was fifty-two years old at the time of the hearing and was a
correctional officer at the Varner unit of ADC. On the day of
the incident, February 23, 2015, appellant had commuted to
work from Mississippi with a coworker. The inclement-weather
policy was in effect, which meant that employees would
receive their full salary even though they were given extra
time to report to work. Appellant arrived late but within the
time allotted under the inclement-weather policy; she was
wearing her uniform as there were no changing rooms or
lockers provided in the prison. Appellant testified that when
she stepped out of the car, she slipped on "black
ice" and injured her left knee. Afterwards, she
proceeded from the parking lot to the checkpoint, walked
through the gate, clocked in, and was assigned to her post.
Because the prison was short staffed that day due to the
weather, there was no one to help her fill out
workers'-compensation forms. Appellant worked a full
shift that day and continued to work until March 14, 2015.
Appellant additionally testified that it was her
understanding from her training at the academy that she was
held responsible for her actions while wearing her uniform
even if she was not working at the time.
the hearing, the ALJ found that at the time of the injury,
appellant was going to work and injured herself in the
parking lot. Therefore, the ALJ found that she was not
performing any work-related duties at the time of the injury,
found that she had failed to prove she was performing
employment services at the time of her injury, and denied her
claim for benefits.
appealed the ALJ's decision, and on November 22, 2016,
the Commission, in a 2-1 majority opinion, affirmed and
adopted the ALJ's opinion as its own. Under Arkansas law,
the Commission is permitted to adopt the ALJ's opinion.
SSI, Inc. v. Cates, 2009 Ark.App. 763, 350 S.W.3d
421. In so doing, the Commission makes the ALJ's findings
and conclusions the findings and conclusions of the
Commission. Id. Therefore, for purposes of our
review, we consider both the ALJ's opinion and the
Commission's majority opinion. Id.
appeals involving claims for workers' compensation, the
appellate court views the evidence in the light most
favorable to the Commission's decision and affirms the
decision if it is supported by substantial evidence.
Prock v. Bull Shoals Boat Landing, 2014 Ark. 93, 431
S.W.3d 858. Substantial evidence is evidence that a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Id. The issue is not whether the
appellate court might have reached a different result from
the Commission but whether reasonable minds could reach the
result found by the Commission. Id. Additionally,
the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be given to
their testimony are within the exclusive province of the
Commission. Id. Thus, we are foreclosed from
determining the credibility and weight to be accorded to each
witness's testimony, and we defer to the Commission's
authority to disregard the testimony of any witness, even a
claimant, as not credible. Wilson v. Smurfit Stone
Container, 2009 Ark.App. 800, 373 S.W.3d 347. When there
are contradictions in the evidence, it is within the
Commission's province to reconcile conflicting evidence
and determine the facts. Id. Finally, this court
will reverse the Commission's decision only if it is
convinced that fair-minded persons with the same facts before
them could not have reached the conclusions arrived at by the
Commission. Prock, supra.
order for an accidental injury to be compensable, it must
arise out of and in the course of employment. Ark. Code Ann.
§ 11-9-102(4)(A)(i) (Repl. 2012). A compensable injury
does not include an injury incurred at a time when employment
services were not being performed. Ark. Code Ann. §
11-9-102(4)(B)(iii). An employee is performing employment
services when he or she is doing something that is generally
required by his or her employer. Cont'l Constr. Co.
v. Nabors, 2015 Ark.App. 60, 454 S.W.3d 762. We use the
same test to determine whether an employee is performing
employment services as we do when determining whether an
employee is acting within the course and scope of employment.
Pifer v. Single Source Transp., 347 Ark. 851, 69
S.W.3d 1 (2002). The test is whether the injury occurred
within the time and space boundaries of the employment when
the employee was carrying out the employer's purpose or
advancing the employer's interest, either directly or
indirectly. Id. Moreover, whether an employee was
performing employment services within the course of
employment depends on the particular facts and circumstances
of each case. Centers for Youth & Families v.
Wood, 2015 Ark.App. 380, 466 S.W.3d 422.
going-and-coming rule ordinarily precludes compensation to an
employee while he or she is traveling between his or her home
and his or her job because employees who have fixed hours and
places of work are generally not considered to be in the
course of their employment while traveling to and from work.
Nabors, supra. In order to determine
whether an injured employee was performing employment
services, we must analyze whether the injury occurred within
the time and space boundaries of the employment when the
employee was carrying out the employer's purpose or
advancing the employer's interest, either directly or
appeal, appellant contends that substantial evidence does not
support the Commission's decision that she was not
performing employment services at the time of her injury. She
argues that she was, at the very least, indirectly benefiting
her employer because she was going to work despite the
inclement weather; was wearing her uniform; was paid for her
entire shift; and could have been required to assist with
prisoners in the parking lot even though she was not clocked
in. We disagree.
support of her argument, appellant cites three cases that
merit discussion. In Caffey v. Sanyo Manufacturing
Corp., 85 Ark.App. 342, 154 S.W.3d 274 (2004), we held
that an employee who had presented a security badge at two
guard shacks and had entered the manufacturing plant but who
had not yet clocked in when she slipped and fell in the
hallway was performing employment services because her
employer required her to go through those obstacles before
getting to her work station. In Nabors,
supra, we held that an employee who had swiped his
access card at a gate and had donned his personal-protective
equipment pursuant to regulations, but who had not yet
clocked in when he slipped on his way to the employer's
work trailer was performing employment services. Nabors had
taken affirmative steps to satisfy the general
contractor's safety and security requirements to enter
the job site; we therefore held that Nabors was clearly
advancing his employer's interests when he complied with
the general contractor's rules regarding access to the
job site. Id. Finally, in North Little Rock
School District v. Lybarger, 2009 Ark.App. 330, 308
S.W.3d 651, Lybarger was a teacher's aide at Boone Park
Elementary School. On the date of her injury, she was at the
Lakewood campus for staff-development day. Id. After
she had been released for lunch and instructed to report to
Boone Park Elementary for further meetings afterwards,
Lybarger broke her right leg while climbing stairs en route
to the parking lot but before she had left the premises.
Id. We affirmed the Commission's finding that
she was performing employment services. Id. Although
she was released to lunch, she was required during that time
to exit the building and travel from one campus where she was