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Matthew Bergmann
Matthew Bergmann
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Kansas Supreme Court Reverses Rule for Injured Worker

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The Kansas Supreme Court has reversed a prior appellate decision and found a worker’s claim of injury vaild under the Kansas Workers Compensation Act.

In Rinke v. Bank of America, a bank employee left work at the end of her shift and walked to her car which was parked in a garage adjacent to the bank. She then slipped and fell on a patch of ice and sand in front of her car and was injured. At issue was whether or not the bank was responsible for the claimant’s injuries.

The bank did not own the parking garage or the adjacent building where it conducted its daily business. Rather, the bank specifically leased all but 20 of the more than 700 parking spaces avaiable in the garage. The landlord for the garage was responsible for the management, maintenance and security on the site. Based upon these facts, the Kansas Court of Appeals found that the employee had not fallen on the premises of her employer. In doing so, the Court of Appeals narrowly constured the term “premises’ and determined that the bank did not exercise control over the parking to such an extent that it could be considered part of the bank’s premises. As such, the Court of Appeals barred the employees claim to workers compensation by the coming and going rule.

However the Kansas Supreme Court reversed, finding that the Appeals Board for the Kansas Division of Workers Compensation had substantial evidence to find that the employee was on the bank’s premises at the time of her injury. The Court cited the large number of parking spaces leased to the bank by the owner of the parking garage, and that the bank directed its employees to park in the garage. This resulted in a ruling that the bank effectively controlled the parking garage, and although the bank did not own the garage, the premises was in such proximity and relation to the spaces leased by the bank, as to essetially served as the bank’s premises.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court did find that the employee’s work accident was compensable within the Kansas Workers Compensation Act and ordered benefits to be awarded accordingly.