UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEE CLAIMS DIVISION APPELLANTS
PATRICIA HINES APPELLEE
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
H. Montgomery, for appellants.
Giles & Matteson, L.L.P., by: Greg Giles, for appellee.
W. GRUBER, Chief Judge
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the
Public Employee Claims Division appeal a decision of the
Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission awarding
appellee Patricia Hines benefits for an injury to her left
knee. For reversal, appellants contend that the Commission
erred in finding that Hines was performing employment
services at the time she was injured. We affirm.
March 28, 2018, Hines slipped and fell at work resulting in a
left-patella fracture, which required surgical
repair. Following her injury, Hines filed a claim
for workers'-compensation benefits. Appellants
controverted the claim in its entirety, alleging that Hines
was not performing employment services at the time of the
accident. A hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ)
took place on October 24, 2018. Hines was the only witness to
testified that she worked for UAMS as a surgical-services
patient-unit coordinator. She worked from the front desk of
the unit and was responsible for scheduling, coordinating,
and staffing the department's thirty-two surgical rooms.
Her normal shift was from 2:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. She was
required to clock in at the beginning of her shift and clock
out when it was over. Hines stated she had had two
fifteen-minute breaks and a thirty-minute lunch
break. Her breaks were not scheduled. She
explained, "Because of the nature of my position at the
front desk, there is no scheduled time because there's
cases and there's emergencies and there's traumas, so
I have to fit in a break where I can, if I can." She
usually combined her break with her lunch to take just one
day of her accident, Hines took her break at approximately
6:30 p.m. She left her second-floor work area and rode the
elevator down to the first floor. When she exited the
elevator, she answered a phone call from her granddaughter.
She had taken approximately ten to fifteen steps when she
slipped and fell. Hines testified that when she was taking
her break she was not headed to any specific place. She often
took her break in the lobby because it was sunny, and she
enjoyed the piano. Hines said that she generally used her
break to get away from her department and to take care of
things she couldn't handle while she was at work, such as
calling family members. She explained that she worked in a
"very stressful department" and that breaks were
necessary to refresh and return with more energy and better
testified that she did not clock out during her breaks and
was still on duty. She explained there are emergencies and
traumas at any time and that she is the only unit coordinator
on that shift. If there was an emergency, the head nurse
would call her to return immediately, which was why Hines
stayed in the building and did not clock out. If she were to
leave the building, UAMS policy required her to clock out so
they knew she was not in the building. When asked if she was
required to take her breaks on the premises or if she could
leave, Hines answered, "No, I could not leave." The
nurse manager covered her desk when Hines was on break. On
the day of the accident, Hines did not get a call to return,
but she had been called back three to four times during her
six years in that position.
found that Hines failed to prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that she was performing employment services at the
time of her fall. The Commission, in a split decision,
reversed the decision of the ALJ. The Commission wrote:
In the case at bar, the claimant was within the time and
space boundaries of her employment, she was paid for her time
and, even though she was not at her designated work station,
she was on the jobsite when she sustained her injury.
Additionally, as in Ray, supra, the
claimant was required to leave her break and return to work
if she was needed to assist with an emergency or if a trauma
The present case is analogous to Ray, supra
[Ray v. University of Arkansas, 66 Ark.App. 177, 990
S.W.2d 558 (1999)], and Kimbell, supra
[Kimbell v. Assoc. of Rehab Industries, 366 Ark.
297, 235 S.W.3d 499 (2006)]. The claimant testified that she
was taking a break but was still on duty because she remained
in the building. Additionally, the claimant remained on call
at her jobsite, clocked in and available for work. It appears
that one of the essential functions of the claimant's
position was to be on site, waiting for a trauma to occur so
that she could coordinate any necessary surgical procedures.
The claimant testified that she was the only unit coordinator
on her shift and if she had been called to return to her desk
because of an emergency or trauma, she would have been
required to do so. The claimant testified further that she
had been called back from her lunch break in the past.
Clearly, the respondent-employer derived a benefit from the
claimant remaining in the building, immediately available to
resume her duties. For the aforementioned reasons, we find
that the claimant was performing employment services.
filed a timely notice of appeal.
reviewing a decision from the Commission, our court reviews
the evidence and all reasonable inferences deducible
therefrom in the light most favorable to the Commission's
findings and affirms if the decision is supported by
substantial evidence. Kroger Ltd. P'ship v.
Bess, 2018 Ark.App. 404, at 6, 555 S.W.3d 417, 421.
Substantial evidence exists if reasonable minds could have
reached the same conclusion without resort to speculation or
conjecture. Id. The issue is not whether the
appellate court might have reached a different result from
that of the Commission but whether reasonable minds could
reach the result found by the ...