Parker v. Riverview Psychiatric Center
Maine Worker's Compensation Division
June 25, 2020
Wrist Knee Rib Legal Causation Positional Risk
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Parker fell while walking down an enclosed hallway at work, fracturing her wrists and knee, bruising her ribs and injuring her lungs. In the absence of any work hazard, Riverview denied benefits on grounds of “legal causation.” Parker filed petitions asking the board to find the injury “arose out of and in the course” of her employment and to order Riverview to pay her workers’ compensation benefits.
At hearing Parker alleged that the floor was sticky and caused her to trip and fall, but Riverview witnesses testified that the floor was not sticky or otherwise dangerous, and she was not rushing or carrying things. Although the injury occurred “in the course of” Parker’s employment, Judge Elwin found that it did not “arise out of” her employment because the risk there was not elevated above a normal non-work day elsewhere, and she denied Parker’s petitions accordingly.
Parker appealed, but the Appellate Division affirmed Judge Elwin’s decision. The panel found that Judge Elwin applied the correct legal standard and that her application of the law to the facts was neither arbitrary nor irrational, but was based on credible evidence. The panel rejected the long-defunct “positional risk” doctrine that, just because the employee was at work when the injury occurred, it must be work-related.