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Atkinson v. 2M Company, Inc.

Supreme Court of Idaho

January 29, 2019

MATTHEW ATKINSON, Claimant-Respondent,
v.
2M COMPANY, INC., Employer, and EMPLOYERS ASSURANCE COMPANY, Surety, Defendants-Appellants.

          Appeal from the Industrial Commission of the State of Idaho.

         The determination of the Industrial Commission is affirmed.

          Gardner Law Office, Boise, attorneys for Appellant. Michael G. McPeek argued.

          Bradford S. Eidam, PLLC, Boise, attorney for Respondent. Bradford S. Eidam argued.

          BEVAN, Justice.

         I. Nature of the Case

         2M Company Inc. ("2M") appeals an Industrial Commission ("Commission") decision that determined Matthew Atkinson was entitled to reasonable medical benefits for injuries he sustained in an accident on his way to work. The Commission found that an exception to the "going and coming" rule applied based on 2M's intent to compensate Atkinson for his travel time while going to or coming from work. 2M and its surety, Employer Assurance Company, timely appealed. We affirm on different grounds.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         At the time of his accident, Atkinson was a salaried employee of 2M, a wholesaler of well drilling and irrigation supplies. Atkinson was a territorial sales person for 2M and was responsible for providing 2M's hallmark "Legendary Service" to customers by supplying technical assistance at the customer's place of business, running parts to them, and assisting in the installation of those parts. 2M provided Atkinson with a pickup truck owned by the company so that he had the ability to call on potential and existing customers. Atkinson would respond to an average of two or three emergency customer calls per week, often late in the evening. Atkinson was issued a company credit card to purchase fuel for the pickup truck, and 2M paid for any necessary vehicle servicing and maintenance. 2M also required Atkinson to work one Saturday every five weeks staffing 2M's Meridian office from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Atkinson was scheduled to work on March 11, 2017, after switching Saturday shifts with a coworker.

         On March 10, 2017, Atkinson drove his personal vehicle to the Whitewater Saloon for a date night with his wife. Neither felt comfortable driving afterwards so they left the car there and took a taxi home. The following morning Atkinson's wife needed to retrieve her car to pick up their children who had spent the night at their grandparent's house. Atkinson planned to drop his wife off at Whitewater Saloon and go on to work for his shift; as such, Atkinson and his wife left their home together in his company pickup truck the morning of March 11, 2017. Whitewater Saloon is on Atkinson's usual route to 2M's office.

         However, as the couple was leaving their subdivision, Atkinson noticed he could not see clearly out of the front windshield due to frost, so he pulled over to the side of the road to scrape the windshield with a credit card. As he was scraping the windshield he was struck by another vehicle and sustained significant injuries to his right leg and shoulder.

         On May 24, 2017, Atkinson filed a complaint with the Commission. A hearing was conducted on September 13, 2017, to determine the compensability of Atkinson's claim. The Referee found that Atkinson was entitled to benefits because he was injured in the course of his employment as he was traveling to work in employer-provided transportation when the accident occurred. Specifically, the Referee held that Hansen v. Estate of Harvey, 119 Idaho 333, 806 P.2d 426 (1991) ("Hansen"), was controlling and dispositive.

         The Commission confirmed that Atkinson was entitled to reasonable medical benefits for injuries sustained in the March 11, 2017, accident, but it rejected the Referee's reliance upon Hansen. The Commission issued its own findings of fact and conclusions of law that found Case of Barker, 105 Idaho 108, 666 P.2d 635 (1983) ("Barker I") to be dispositive. 2M and its surety, Employer Assurance Company, timely appealed to this Court.

         III. Issues on Appeal

         1. Whether the Commission applied the correct legal standards in determining that Atkinson's accident occurred in the course of his employment with 2M.

         2. Whether the Commission erred by failing to make a specific factual finding concerning whether Atkinson's accident arose out of his employment with 2M.

         3. Whether Atkinson is entitled to attorney fees on appeal.

         IV. Standard of Review

         "When reviewing a decision of the Industrial Commission, this Court exercises free review over questions of law." Sundquist v. Precision Steel & Gypsum, Inc., 141 Idaho 450, 453, 111 P.3d 135, 138 (2005) (citing Uhl v. Ballard Medical Products, Inc., 138 Idaho 653, 657, 67 P.3d 1265, 1269 (2003)). However, this Court will uphold the Commission's factual findings so long as they are supported by substantial and competent evidence. Id. "Substantial and competent evidence is relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept to support a conclusion." Id. "To determine whether an accident occurred arising out of and in the course of [a] Claimant's employment, the Court determines whether the Commission correctly applied the law of the worker's ...


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