Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summary 2007 WY 91

Summary of Decision issued May 30, 2007

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses "Universal Citation" and was given an "official" citation when issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. You will note that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you need to provide a pinpoint citation, the universal portion of the citation will use that paragraph number. The pinpoint citation in the P.3d portion should include the reporter page number. If you need assistance, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]

Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Case Name: Quinn v. Securitas Security Services

Citation: 2007 WY 91

Docket Number: 06-194

Appeal from the District Court of Converse County, the Honorable John C. Brooks, Judge

Representing Appellant (Claimant): Bill G. Hibbler, Bill G. Hibbler, PC, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee (Respondent): Keith R. Nachbar, Keith R. Nachbar, PC, Casper, Wyoming.

Issue: Whether Quinn was injured while he was traveling in a vehicle of his employer pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 27-14-102(a)(xi)(D).

Facts/Discussion: Quinn challenged the denial of benefits for injuries he sustained in a bus accident while traveling to work. Securitas employed Quinn as a security guard/EMT at the North Antelope Rochelle Coal Mine. As a courtesy, the mine allowed Securitas’ employees to ride a bus that the mine provided for its employees. Quinn was riding that bus when it was involved in an accident and he was injured.
Standard of Review:
The Court reviews an agency action pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 16-3-114. The Court reviews a summary judgment in the same light as the district court using the same materials and following the same standards.
The appeal focused on the language “transported by a vehicle of the employer” found in Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 27-14-102(a)(xi)(D). An injury within the meaning of the statute requires a causal nexus between the injury and some condition, activity, environment or requirement of the employment. Generally, the causal nexus is lacking when an employee is traveling to work. The recognized exceptions to the general rule find a causal nexus where the employer has in some fashion provided the employee with transportation or has reimbursed him for the costs of those travels. The Court agreed with the district court that the contract language between the mine and Securitas did not support Quinn’s theory that his injuries were compensable because Securitas was providing transportation for its employees. The Court stated that the circumstances were similar to those presented in Berg where they recognized that a benefit provided to employees for use at their discretion does not constitute a condition of employment. The record does not reflect that Securitas assumed the cost of the travel. Therefore the general rule applies and the injuries suffered by Quinn were not compensable.

Holding: The Court found the injuries Quinn suffered in the bus accident were not compensable. He was traveling to work when he was injured and the bus was not a “vehicle of the employer” under the applicable Wyoming statute. Accordingly, the hearing officer properly granted summary judgment to the employer.


J. Burke delivered the decision.

J. Hill dissenting, joined by J. Kite: The Justices would have remanded the matter to the district court with directions to further remand to the OAH with directions to enter summary judgment in favor of Quinn. The Justices were not convinced the contract between Securitas and the coal company had anything to do with the case, but if it did, it ran afoul of the constitutional and statutory prohibition of a contract between a worker and an employer that operates as a waiver of benefits provided by the worker’s compensation statutes. The Justices opinion was that as a practical matter, Securitas provided Quinn with transportation to and from work and Quinn suffered an injury during that transport. Securitas’ extraction of what amounted to a waiver of benefits was contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the governing statutes.

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