Campbell v. Skills
April 25, 2016
Off-Site Injury Compensability Comeau v. Maine Coastal Services
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Campbell’s job was to help disabled clients with activities of daily living in group homes. She attended a mandatory recertification course in Brewer which Skills considered an essential part of its employees’ work schedules and for which Skills paid them, including the travel time and breaks. The course instructor told participants who wanted to smoke during a break to go to a certain area of the sidewalk, and Skills itself allowed its employees to smoke in designated areas. While Campbell was standing on the sidewalk smoking on break, a car jumped the curb and hit her. Campbell filed a Petition for Award, and Judge Elwin granted the petition and ordered payment of benefits; Skills appealed.
Skills argued that the injury did not “arise out of and in the course of employment.” The Appellate Division found that Judge Elwin had properly applied the compensability factors listed by the Maine Supreme Court in Comeau v. Maine Coastal Services. The panel gave “significant deference” to Judge Elwin's application of those factors in determining that the injury was compensable. It found that her conclusion was not arbitrary or without rational foundation, especially since the course was mandatory and accommodated Skills’ needs, and the smoke break was permitted and was an insubstantial deviation from employment.