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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Municipality of Anchorage et al. v Robertson (11/16/2001) sp-5498

Municipality of Anchorage et al. v Robertson (11/16/2001) sp-5498

     Notice:  This opinion is subject to correction before publication in
the Pacific Reporter.  Readers are requested to bring errors to the attention of the
Clerk of the Appellate Courts, 303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501, phone (907)
264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878, e-mail corrections@appellate.courts.state.ak.us.


             THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA


MUNICIPALITY OF ANCHORAGE and )
WARD NORTH AMERICA, INC.,     )    Supreme Court Nos. S-9763/9770
                              )
               Appellants,    )    Superior Court Nos.
                              )    3AN-00-3658 CI
     v.                       )    3AN-00-10516 CI
                              )
CHARLES ROBERTSON,            )    O P I N I O N
                              )
               Appellee.      )    [No. 5498 - November 16, 2001]
                              )



          Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of
Alaska, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, John Reese, Judge. 

          Appearances:  Peggy A. Roston, Law Office of
          Trena L. Heikes, Anchorage, for Appellants. 
Chancy Croft, Chancy Croft Law Office, Anchorage, for Appellee.

          Before:  Fabe, Chief Justice, Matthews,
          Eastaugh, Bryner, and Carpeneti, Justices.  

          PER CURIAM.


          Set forth here is the opinion of the superior court from
which this appeal is taken.
                    ORDER REVERSING THE DECISION AND ORDER OF
                           THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION BOARD
                          DENYING BENEFITS TO THE APPELLANT
                    
                                Introduction and Facts
                         Appellant, Mr. Robertson, was crossing "G"
                    Street to get from the Municipality of
                    Anchorage (MOA) parking garage to work at the
                    MOA's "Hill"building.  Parking is provided in
                    the MOA parking garage to MOA employees at a
                    discounted rate.  There is no dispute that Mr.
                    Robertson was injured when he slipped on ice
                    as he stepped up to the curb.  Mr. Robertson
                    made a claim for Workers' Compensation and
                    this claim was heard by the Workers'
                    Compensation Board (Board).  The Board denied
                    Mr. Robertson's claim because going to and
                    coming from work is not covered by Workers'
                    Compensation.  In reaching this decision, the
                    Board found that Mr. Robertson's accident was
                    not within the "special hazards"exception to
                    the going and coming rule.  Mr. Robertson
                    appealed the Board's decision to deny him
                    coverage and the MOA cross-appealed the
                    Board's finding that the MOA parking garage is
                    part of the employer's premises.
                                Mr. Robertson's Appeal
                         The court finds that the Board erred when
                    it applied the coming and going rule.  Once an
                    employee reaches the employer's premises the
                    coming and going rule ceases to apply. 
                    Accordingly, when an employee must cross a
                    public street between two parts of the
                    employer's premises, the employee does not
                    fall back into the coming and going rule. 
                    Since the Board found that Mr. Robertson
                    reached the MOA's premises when he entered the
                    parking garage Mr. Robertson's travel between
                    the MOA's garage and the MOA's building was
                    not within the coming and going rule.  
                                The MOA's Cross-Appeal
                         The MOA argues that the Board erred when
                    it found that the parking garage was part of
                    its premises.  This point on appeal is not
                    well taken.  The record shows that the
                    employer provided the parking to Mr.
                    Robertson, benefitted from providing parking
                    to Mr. Robertson, and owned the parking garage
                    albeit indirectly.  These facts are sufficient
                    to support the Board's finding that the MOA
                    owned the parking garage.
                                      Conclusion
                         Based on the above analysis, the Board's
                    decision that the coming and going rule
                    precluded compensation to Mr. Robertson is
                    reversed and remanded.  The court affirms the
                    Board's finding that the MOA parking garage is
                    part of the MOA's premises. 
       The superior court's conclusion that Robertson's injury
was compensable is supported by a well-recognized application of
the "premises rule." The premises rule holds that injuries suffered
on the employer's premises by an employee who is going to or coming
from work are compensable. [Fn. 1]  It is thus the flip side of the
"going and coming rule"under which injuries occurring off the
employer's premises while the employee is traveling to or from work
are not compensable. [Fn. 2]  Under the rule, where the employer
provides parking, the parking area is considered part of the
employer's premises.  If the parking area is separated from the
employee's workplace by a  street, injuries  suffered on the street
while walking between the premises are considered compensable just
as they would be if they had occurred on either premises. [Fn. 3] 

          We agree with this application of the premises rule, as
do the courts of most states. [Fn. 4]  We note that this rule
applies where, as here, the employer does not own the parking
facility but leases a portion of it for employee parking, [Fn. 5]
as well as when the employer charges the employee for the privilege
of parking. [Fn. 6]
          The Municipality also challenges the superior court's
award of attorney's fees of $20,748 to Robertson's counsel for work
in the superior court.  The Municipality does not challenge the
reasonableness of the hourly rate claimed by counsel, $250 per
hour, but argues that sixty-nine hours as claimed by counsel
reflects an inefficient expenditure of attorney time for a
relatively simple "single issue case." Questions such as this are
committed to the discretion of the superior court. [Fn. 7]  We are
not persuaded by the showing presented by the Municipality that the
court abused its discretion in concluding that Robertson's
counsel's expenditure of time was reasonable.  
          The judgment of the superior court is therefore AFFIRMED.


                            FOOTNOTES


Footnote 1:

     See 1 Arthur Larson & Lex K. Larson,  Larson's Workers' Compensation Law
sec. 13.01 (1999).

Footnote 2:

     See Seville v. Holland America Line Westours, Inc., 977 P.2d
103, 106 (Alaska 1999).


Footnote 3:

     See Larson, supra note 1,  sec.sec. 13.01, 13.01[4][a]-[b],
13.04[2][a]-[b], and numerous cases there cited. 


Footnote 4:

     See id.  See, e.g., Knoop v. Industrial Comm'n, 589 P.2d 1325
(Ariz. App. 1979) (Employee slipped and fell while walking from
parking lot leased by employer to plant.  Injuries held
compensable.); Epler v. North American Rockwell Corp., 393 A.2d
1163 (Pa. 1978) (Employee struck by vehicle while crossing public
street between plant and employer provided parking.  Held compensa-

ble.); Copeland v. Leaf, Inc., 829 S.W.2d 140 (Tenn. 1992)
(Employee knocked down and injured while walking on public sidewalk
or street between plant and designated employee parking lot.  Court
allowed recovery.).


Footnote 5:

     See Larson, supra note 1, sec. 13.04[2][a], at 13-40.  Cf. Van
Deusen v. Onondaga County, 357 N.Y.S.2d 155 (N.Y. App. Div. 1974). 
See also P.B. Bell & Assocs. v. Industrial Comm'n, 690 P.2d 802
(Ariz. App. 1984); Proctor-Silex Corp. v. DeBrick, 252 A.2d 800
(Md. 1969).


Footnote 6:

     See Department of Human Resources v. Jankowski, 249 S.E.2d 124
(Ga. App. 1978); Marlow v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 225 N.E.2d
241 (Ohio 1967).


Footnote 7:

     See Tobeluk v. Lind, 589 P.2d 873, 878 (Alaska 1978) ("[T]he
award of . . . fees [is] committed to the broad discretion of the
trial court.  We will not interfere with the trial court's
determination unless it is shown that the court abused its
discretion by issuing a decision which is arbitrary, capricious,
manifestly unreasonable, or which stems from an improper motive.")
(citations omitted).