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Harwood v. Ardagh Group

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division III

July 20, 2018

JERRY NEAL HARWOOD, Petitioner,
v.
ARDAGH GROUP, TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY OF AMERICA, and THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION, Respondents.

          Mandate Issued: 02/13/2019

          PROCEEDING TO REVIEW AN ORDER OF THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION

          John L. Harlan, JOHN L. HARLAN & ASSOCIATES, P.C., Sapulpa, Oklahoma, for Petitioner,

          John A. McCaleb, FENTON, FENTON, SMITH, RENEAU & MOON, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Respondents.

          BRIAN JACK GOREE, VICE-CHIEF JUDGE

         ¶1 Petitioner, Jerry Neal Harwood (Claimant), seeks review of the order of the Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) which affirmed the decision of its administrative law judge (ALJ) finding that Claimant did not sustain a compensable injury. Respondents are Ardagh Group and Travelers Indemnity Company of America (collectively Employer). Claimant sustained his injuries while crossing a public highway next to Employer's place of business after clocking out and leaving work. The Commission denied the claim because the injury did not arise out of the course and scope of employment. We affirm, holding the Commission order is neither missing findings of fact essential to the decision nor affected by any other error of law.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Harwood was an employee of Respondent Ardagh Group working at the company's Sapulpa glass plant. The glass plant is located on the west side of Mission Street (Oklahoma Highway 66). On the east side of the highway are two employer-provided parking areas where Respondent directed Claimant to park. These parking lots are either owned or leased by Respondent Ardagh Group. There is a crosswalk on the highway with pedestrian activated overhead lights. At the time of Harwood's injury, the lights were not functioning properly. The Respondent did not own, operate or control the crosswalk on the highway.

         ¶3 On the night of July 16, 2016, Claimant clocked out at the end of his shift and left the glass plant to go home. While using the crosswalk on the highway which separated the plant from the parking areas Claimant was hit by a motor vehicle and was severely injured.

         ¶4 On March 23, 2017, a hearing was conducted before an ALJ. The parties stipulated to several facts and Harwood presented four witnesses.

         ¶5 On August 16, 2017, the ALJ issued her order denying compensability finding:

[Harwood's] injury sustained in a common area adjacent to the Respondent's place of business after he had clocked out, was not an injury arising out of the course and scope of employment within the meaning of the Administrative Workers' Compensation Act. Any injury sustained by the Claimant when struck by the motor vehicle while on the public roadway which the Respondent did not own, operate or control was excluded from the definition of course and scope of employment found in 85A O.S., § 2 (13) and from the definition of compensable injury set forth in 85A O.S., § 2 (9).

         ¶6 On November 3, 2017, the parties conducted oral argument before the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Commission En Banc and on November 6, 2017, the Commission issued its order affirming the decision of the administrative law judge. It is from this order Harwood appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶7 The law in effect at the time of the injury controls both the award of benefits and the appellate standard of review where workers' compensation is concerned. Brown v. Claims Mgmt. Resources, Inc., 2017 OK 13, ΒΆ 9, 391 P.3d 111. Appellate review of the ...


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