WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO. G401760]
LAW, PLLC, by: R. Scott Morgan and Patrick Feilke, for
Josephine Linker Hart, Justice.
case is once more before this court pursuant to a petition
for review filed by Brookshire Grocery Company (Brookshire).
On April 3, 2017, Brookshire filed a petition asking us to
review an opinion, Brookshire Grocery Co. v. Morgan,
2017 Ark.App. 170, handed down by the court of appeals on
March 15, 2017. We noted that in this workers'
compensation case, neither the Commission nor the court of
appeals had issued a formal opinion. Brookshire Grocery
Co. v. Morgan, 2017 Ark. 221. The Arkansas Workers'
Compensation Commission (the Commission) merely adopted the
administrative law judge's findings of fact and
conclusions of law, and the court of appeals issued a
memorandum opinion. Id. That memorandum opinion
became the impetus for our decision to abolish the practice
of disposing of fully briefed cases by memorandum opinion.
Id. We overruled In re Memorandum Opinions,
16 Ark.App. 301, 700 S.W.2d 63 (1985) (per curiam), and we
amended Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 5-2(e) to require that
all opinions issued by the court of appeals "be in
conventional form." Brookshire, 2017 Ark. 221.
remanded the case to the court of appeals, requiring it to
state in conventional-opinion form its reasoning for the
disposition of the case. The court of appeals did so, issuing
a new opinion on June 21, 2017. Brookshire Grocery Co. v.
Morgan, 2017 Ark.App. 387. Brookshire again petitioned
for review, and we granted its petition. We also allowed
Brookshire to supplement the brief it had filed in the court
of appeals. We now consider Brookshire's appeal on the
merits, and we reverse and remand.
appeals from a decision of the Compensation Commission
(Commission). It found that, at the time of his injury,
Deputy Cleon Morgan, Sr., had two employers, the Jefferson
County Sheriff's Department and Brookshire. The
Commission concluded that as "joint employers, "
both were liable for Deputy Morgan's
workers'-compensation benefits. On appeal, Brookshire
raises four points, which we have renumbered for the sake of
I. Appellants cannot be liable for worker's-compensation
benefits if Morgan was an independent contractor.
II. When the traditional factors are applied, they
demonstrate Morgan was an independent contractor on the day
of his injury.
III. The court of appeals erred by considering factors that
are wholly irrelevant to the issue of employee versus
IV. The court of appeals erred by inserting facts into the
considering Brookshire's arguments on appeal, we first
wish to make it clear that, consistent with our
long-established practices and procedures, when we review a
decision by the court of appeals, we treat the case as though
it had been originally filed in this court. Askins v.
Kroger Ltd. P'ship, 2018 Ark. 23, __S.W.3d__. We
will therefore treat Brookshire's arguments accordingly.
undisputed that Deputy Morgan injured his ankle on February
19, 2014, while working a part-time security job at a
Brookshire grocery store. He noticed a female in the store
who he believed was shoplifting. When he approached her, he
found several pieces of merchandise concealed on her person.
By his own description, when that occurred, he was in
"arrest mode" and his "authority as a deputy
kicked in." According to Deputy Morgan, he
"sweet-talked" the suspect into accompanying him
upstairs to the manager's office. Deputy Morgan recalled
that sometimes the manager will decline to press charges and
instead ban the shoplifter from the store. However, on the
night in question, the manager insisted that the shoplifter
go to jail. There, he handcuffed her and formally placed her
under arrest. She then asked to be uncuffed so that she could
use the restroom. When the restraint was unlocked, she
bolted. Deputy Morgan sprained his ankle while sprinting
after her down the stairs.
Morgan informed the sheriff's department of his injury.
Initially, Deputy Morgan's medical expenses were
submitted to his health-and-accident insurance carrier, but
personnel at the sheriff's department told him it was a
workers'-compensation claim. He eventually was held out
of work for five weeks.
contested its liability for Deputy Morgan's
workers'-compensation benefits, arguing that he was an
independent contractor, not an employee. The issue was tried
before an ...