Appellate Division Affirms Ruling that an NJ Jail Parking Lot was Part of the Work Premises

08.18.17

Category: New Jersey

The Appellate Division reviewed and adapted the provisions of another parking lot case in the matter of Beverly Gould v. Corizon Health of NJ, A-0438-15T1. In that matter, the Court affirmed a decision by the Judge of Compensation that an adjacent jail parking lot was part of the premises and that the employee's workplace injury in the parking lot was compensable.

In the underlying claim, a licensed professional nurse fell in a parking lot after completing her shift at the County Correctional Work Release Center in Pemberton, NJ. The issue presented itself as to whether the parking lot was part of the nurse's workplace.

As with most parking lot matters the Court reviewed the specific facts of the parking lot. In this instance, Pemberton's Work Release Center was owned by Burlington County, and had only one parking lot available for its employees, contractors, vendors and visitors. The Burlington County Highway Department was responsible for maintaining the lot.

The trial Judge stated that the fall in the parking lot "arose out of and in the course of her off premises work at the jail (she performed work at a variety of jail sites) and that her injures were compensable under the 'special missions' exception to the Premises Rule."

On appeal, Corizon Health argued that Nurse Beverly Gould: 1) was not on a special mission; 2) completed her shift at her regular place of employment; and 3) was leaving the prison facility. Corizon also argued that it did not own or maintain the property.

The Appellate Division only dealt with the parking lot issue of "course and scope of employment," finding that if the event were in the course and scope of Nurse Gould's employment, that there was no reason to address the Special Mission Provision. The Appellate Division utilized the seminal case of Livingstone v. Abraham & Straus, 111, N.J. 89 (1988) and its progeny of cases to provide parking lot analysis to the matter. The ruling discussed employer direction, mandatory parking areas and other parking accessibility when factoring in "control of parking" on this case.

The Gould Appellate Court noted the remoteness of the facility, the parking lot being immediately adjacent to the prison and the lot being enclosed by a fence to support its position of "control" of that lot. Combined with the Corizon contract mandating 24 hour per day medical services, the Gould Court was satisfied that Ms. Gould's workday "commenced when she arrived at the parking lot and ended after she left to drive home," affirming the compensability of the claim. The Gould Court utilized the Livingstone wording that, while Corizon "neither owned, maintained, nor had the right exclusively to use this area of the lot, does not, in our view, render her injuries non-compensable."

Comment: The more factors that can tie an employer to "control" of the movements, activities or location of a worker, the more likely the Court is to find an injury to that worker to be a compensable event.

For more information, please contact Joseph W. Borucki at jborucki@wglaw.com or 856.667.5807.

Media Contacts

Lexi Burchmore
267.295.3377
lburchmore@wglaw.com

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