Plaintiff seeks workers' compensation
While engaged in defendant Chrysler's employ on April 1, 1978, plaintiff Corrine Dean suffered a work-related injury when an explosion hurled a piece of metal against her leg. Defendant does not dispute that this injury is compensable under the Workers' Disability Compensation Act. Plaintiff returned to work around May 19, 1978, and was placed on restricted or favored-work status. Plaintiff did not report to work on June 28, 1978, in order to attend an appointment with her personal physician to review the results of lab tests and receive further treatment in connection with the prior work-related leg injury. While en route from home to her physician's office plaintiff sustained multiple injuries in a one-car motor vehicle accident in which her car apparently flipped over a concrete barrier.
In addition to workers' disability compensation for the workplace leg injury, which is not contested, plaintiff seeks coverage under the act for the injuries sustained in the June 28, 1978, motor vehicle accident.
Subsequently, a unanimous panel of the Court of Appeals reversed in an unpublished per curiam opinion.
Plaintiff's initial application to this Court for leave to appeal was denied. 431 Mich. 913 (1988). However, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration, and we then granted leave to appeal. 432 Mich. 921 (1989).
In Rucker, supra, the plaintiff suffered a work-connected injury while in the defendant's employ and was sent to a doctor who treated the injury. Afterwards, the doctor sent the plaintiff home in a taxicab at the expense of the defendant's insurer. While en route, the cab was involved in a collision, resulting in an injury to the plaintiff's eye. In determining whether the accident which occasioned the plaintiff's eye injury "arose out of and in the course of his employment," the Rucker Court stated the general rule that injuries arise out of the employment
The Rucker Court unanimously held that there was "no causal connection" between the prior work-related injury and the injury suffered in the taxicab collision. 300 Mich. 672 (emphasis added). Although Rucker is virtually indistinguishable, plaintiff in this case urges that Rucker no longer controls. It is claimed that Rucker was overruled by the plurality decision in Whetro v Awkerman, 383 Mich. 235; 174 N.W.2d 783 (1970), to the extent that Rucker required a proximate cause between the injury and employment. In Whetro, three members of this Court stated "that the law in Michigan today no longer requires the establishment of a proximately causal connection between the employment and the injury to entitle a claimant to compensation." Id. at 242.
We reject the argument that Whetro had such an effect with respect to a subsequent injury that occurs away from the workplace. Aside from the fact that the Whetro plurality opinion is not precedent,
Whetro is distinguishable from Rucker on two grounds. First, the Whetro claimant was injured when a tornado destroyed the building "wherein he was working for his employer...." Id. at 239. (Emphasis added.)
Secondly, Whetro's focus was not on a second or subsequent injury; rather, the question there was whether the first, and only, injury was compensable. By contrast, the issue in this case, as in Rucker, is whether a second or subsequent injury is compensable. Accordingly, Whetro did not overrule Rucker, expressly or by implication.
In his treatise on workmen's compensation, Professor Larson recognizes that the causation rules applicable to a workplace primary injury are not the same as the causation principles which should apply to a second or subsequent injury that occurs away from the workplace. As Larson explains:
"The basic rule" to be applied to second injury cases according to Professor Larson
However, Larson is required to concede that the "basic rule" is inadequate to justify compensation for most second injuries because, "in the strict sense, none of the consequential injuries we are concerned with are in the course of employment...." Id., § 13.11(d), p 3-542. Thus, Larson finds it "necessary to contrive" a new "quasi-course of employment" concept for analyzing the more difficult cases:
In further explanation of his "quasi-course of employment" approach, Larson states:
While it may be true, as the dissent contends, that a tally of the decisions by courts in other jurisdictions would show that a slight majority line up with the approach taken by Professor Larson, that alone could hardly serve as a principled basis for reversal of the rule in Rucker.
When, over a period of many years, the Legislature has acquiesced in this Court's construction of a statute, the judicial power to change that interpretation ought to be exercised with great restraint. On more than one occasion our Court has quoted with approval the statement that stare decisis
To the extent that prolonged acquiescence suggests legislative approval of the construction given by this Court to a statutory provision, it is reinforced when the Legislature reenacts the statutory language without change. In Smith v Detroit, 388 Mich. 637, 650-651; 202 N.W.2d 300 (1972), we said:
Moreover, we believe that our decision today is consistent with the intent of the Legislature manifested by its reform efforts during the past decade. A purpose of the comprehensive 1980 and 1981 revisions of the workers' compensation system
To hold that Rucker no longer controls the disposition of this case would not only require that we disregard legislative intent but it would have the effect of usurping legislative responsibility in an important respect. When the no-fault system was enacted in 1972, Rucker was the controlling law; it stood for the proposition that a subsequent injury incurred in a motor vehicle accident while en route for treatment of a prior compensable injury was not covered by workers' compensation. Thus, the Legislature's allocation of costs as between the no-fault and workers' compensation systems was made with an awareness
Justice LEVIN'S reasoning in joining to form a majority for the result in McClure v General Motors (On Rehearing), 408 Mich. 191, 210; 289 N.W.2d 631 (1980), which involved an off-premises lunchtime accident, is directly applicable to the instant case. As he then explained,
Justice LEVIN further explained,
As in the case of the off-premises lunchtime accident addressed in McClure, overturning Rucker would, for the first time, charge to the workers' compensation system the cost of injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents while en route for treatment of a prior compensable injury. Because Rucker was settled law in 1972 when the no-fault act was passed, the Legislature had no reason to anticipate such an extension of workers' compensation liability to injuries incurred in a motor vehicle accident otherwise covered by the no-fault act. The result advocated by plaintiff would necessarily work a reallocation of the costs associated with such motor vehicle accidents as between the no-fault and workers' compensation systems, without clear direction from the Legislature.
For these reasons, and on the authority of Rucker, we affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals.
RILEY, C.J., and LEVIN and BRICKLEY, JJ., concurred with GRIFFIN, J.
ARCHER, J. (dissenting).
The issue presented is whether an employee who suffers a compensable, on-the-job injury and subsequently is injured in a vehicular accident while en route to seek medical
I believe that Rucker v Michigan Smelting & Refining Co, 300 Mich. 668; 2 N.W.2d 808 (1942), no longer expresses the present state of the law in this area. I would, therefore, reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals and hold that injuries "arise out of and in the course of employment" when they are the result of reasonable and necessary actions taken because of a previous compensable injury. MCL 418.301; MSA 17.237(301). Where an individual is injured in an accident occurring while en route to seek medical treatment for a prior compensable injury, the injuries arising out of that accident should be compensable under the Workers' Disability Compensation Act. MCL 418.101 et seq.; MSA 17.237(101) et seq.
Questions regarding whether a claimant's injury "aris[es] out of and in the course of employment," MCL 418.301; MSA 17.237(301), can be characterized as questions of law, questions of fact, or mixed questions of fact and law, depending on the facts of the case. Koschay v Barnett Pontiac, Inc, 386 Mich. 223, 225; 191 N.W.2d 334 (1971). The issue in this appeal calls upon the Court to determine an issue of law. We take the WCAB'S findings of fact as conclusive absent fraud. Const 1963, art 6, § 28; MCL 418.861; MSA 17.237(861). Those findings indicate that Ms. Dean suffered a compensable injury when she initially injured her right leg
Thus, this Court is left with the task of determining a jural relationship: Given the fact that Ms. Dean was reasonably seeking treatment for a compensable injury when she was injured in an automobile accident, did her subsequent injuries arise out of and in the course of her employment?
The majority urges that the answer to that question lies in this Court's 1942 decision in Rucker. As the majority points out, Rucker is almost indistinguishable on its facts from this case. I believe we cannot follow Rucker, however, because that case does not express the law of this state. Though Rucker has remained on the books since 1942, it has been a dead letter for almost two decades because the theories on which that decision was explicitly based have been excised from jurisprudence interpreting the meaning of "arising out of and in the course of" employment.
The facts of Rucker are very similar to the facts of this case. Arthur Rucker was injured at work when a pot full of slag struck his leg. His employer sent him to a doctor's office for treatment. After examination and treatment, the doctor sent Rucker homeward in a taxi, at the expense of the employer's insurer. On the way home, the taxi in which Rucker rode was involved in an accident which cost Rucker the use of his left eye. He sued
In Rucker, this Court cited Appleford v Kimmel, 297 Mich. 8; 296 NW 861 (1941), and relied upon that case's enunciation of a proximate-causation test and the "peculiar and increased street risk rule."
We held that there existed "no causal connection between the leg injury received at the plant and the eye injury received in the taxicab collision.
We further based our decision in Rucker on the "act of God" rule followed in such cases as Thier v Widdifield, 210 Mich. 355; 178 NW 16 (1920). "Decision in the instant case is controlled by Thier v Widdifield, ... where an employee was killed by a stroke of lightning during the course of his employment. This court held in that case, as we must hold here, that the accident was not one `arising out of' the employment." 300 Mich. 673. Because Rucker was not "exposed by the nature of the employment to this particular danger," we denied benefits. Id.
Proximate cause is no longer the test for compensability under the Workers' Disability Compensation Act. Neither are the "peculiar and increased street risk" or "act of God" rules still valid in the state. We should not follow Rucker because Rucker is no longer good law.
In Whetro v Awkerman, 383 Mich. 235; 174 N.W.2d 783 (1970), this Court reviewed the history and purpose of workers' compensation and found that proximate causation had previously ceased being the appropriate test for determining whether an injury arises out of and in the course of employment. The law "no longer requires the establishment of a proximately causal connection
Further, it is no longer correct to say, as we did in Rucker, that automobile accident injuries are not compensable if they do not arise out of risks "peculiar to" a worker's employment. Michigan law recognizes the compensability of "street risk" injuries where employment causes an employee to be exposed through work-related travel to an injury-causing risk, even though that risk was not peculiar to the employment. In 1916, this Court held that "[w]here employees are compelled during the course of their employment to travel about the streets, it does not seem to us to be unreasonable to say that the danger of being struck by street cars, automobiles, and traffic of every description should be taken account of." Kunze v Detroit Shade Tree Co, 192 Mich. 435, 438; 158 NW 851 (1916) (compensation was awarded a foreman who was struck by a streetcar while traveling between job sites).
Kunze began a long line of cases
Although Arthur Rucker's injures were caused by risks of the street, this Court found his case to be controlled by an "act of God" case, Thier v Widdifield.
I would make explicit that the rule announced in Rucker is no longer valid. Cessante ratione legis, cessat et ipsa lex.
Given Rucker's ceasing authority in this area, I would look to Professor Larson's treatise on workers' compensation to resolve this case. The majority, too, looks to Professor Larson for guidance but fails to apply Larson's rules to the facts of this case. The majority ignores the fact that Professor Larson regards injuries like Ms. Dean's as the paradigmatic example of compensable consequences of work-related injuries.
According to Professor Larson's treatise, "[t]he basic rule is that a subsequent injury, whether an aggravation of the original injury or a new and distinct injury, is compensable if it is the direct and natural result of a compensable primary injury." 1 Larson, Workmen's Compensation, § 13.11, p 3-503. The Court of Appeals adopted Professor Larson's analysis on this point in Schaefer v Williamston Community Schools, 117 Mich.App. 26; 323 N.W.2d 577 (1982).
As Professor Larson points out, this "direct and natural result" rule is easily applied in a variety of circumstances, such as where a worker is further injured by complications from the initial compensable injury, or where a compensable injury exacerbates a preexisting medical condition. In those situations it is easy to characterize the secondary injuries as "direct and natural results" of compensable injuries. See Larson, supra, § 13.11(a), (b), pp 3-503 to 3-535. See also Braxton v Chevrolet Grey Iron Foundry Div of General Motors Corp, 396 Mich. 685; 242 N.W.2d 420 (1976)
However, as is evident from our grant order, the facts presented here do not present so clear a case. We must decide whether Ms. Dean's injuries are a "direct and natural result" of her workplace injury, despite the lack of a direct causal connection between the first and second injuries. In analyzing this question, I find the "quasi-course-of-employment" test proposed by Professor Larson persuasive. The majority cites this test and then fails to apply it without explanation and, most significantly, without offering a test or framework to take its place. The best the majority can offer is a forty-year-old case that was conceptually debunked decades ago.
The quasi-course of employment test incorporates the "arising out of" and the "in the course of" tests. It makes compensable
To apply the quasi-course-of-employment test to Ms. Dean's case, I take as given that her April 1 injury was compensable,
In light of these findings, it is for us to decide only whether it is reasonable and necessary for a person in Ms. Dean's situation to seek medical
For the following reasons, I would find that a trip to the doctor's office to seek treatment of a compensable injury is an activity that is reasonable or necessary in light of the initial compensable injury.
When Corrine Dean suffered an injury which arose out of and in the course of her employment on April 1, 1978, Chrysler Corporation had a duty to provide her with necessary medical care or reimburse her for her reasonable medical expenses occasioned by that injury. MCL 418.315(1); MSA 17.237(315)(1). This duty was required both by statute and by contract, since the terms of the state's workers' compensation statute can be said to be incorporated into an employment contract entered into and executed within this state. See Wilson v Doehler-Jarvis, 358 Mich. 510; 100 N.W.2d 226 (1960); Thomas v Parker Rust Proof Co, 284 Mich. 260; 279 NW 504 (1938); Grand Rapids v Crocker, 219 Mich. 178; 189 NW 221 (1922). Ms. Dean had the right, under both the statute and her employment contract, to seek medical care on her own if Chrysler failed to provide it. MCL 418.315(1); MSA 17.237(315)(1).
Furthermore, Ms. Dean was under a duty imposed by the statute, and hence her employment contract, to seek medical attention in order to mitigate the damages of her April 1 injuries. See
Thus, Ms. Dean's trip to a doctor's office to seek care for her April 1 injuries was both reasonable and necessary in light of those injuries. Given the WCAB's finding that Ms. Dean was en route to Dr. Ganesh's office for the purpose of treating work-related injuries, I would hold that the injuries resulting from her automobile accident are also compensable.
I disagree with the separate opinion in dissent favoring a remand to determine whether Ms. Dean's possible intoxication or some other intentional act on her part may have defeated the causal nexus between the first and second accident. I view the "intentional intervening act" issue in the quasi-course test as an affirmative defense Chrysler had the duty to plead and prove. I agree with the separate opinion that Chrysler would not be liable under the quasi-course test if it could prove that Ms. Dean intentionally drove while intoxicated, drove recklessly or intentionally caused the accident. However, proof of these sorts of actions have always barred workers from recovering for their injuries. Under MCL 418.305; MSA 17.237(305),
Workers whose voluntary intoxication causes their injuries have been denied compensation, cf. Rose v Paper Mills Trucking Co, 47 Mich.App. 1; 209 N.W.2d 305 (1973), as have been workers injured by their own reckless driving, cf. Day v Gold Star Dairy, 307 Mich. 383; 12 N.W.2d 5 (1943). See
Under Adkins and Schaefer, supra, it was clear to Chrysler that it could escape liability for a secondary injury by proving that Ms. Dean's intentional conduct caused her accident. In fact, Chrysler made this argument before the WCAB, noting that Ms. Dean received a traffic ticket because of the accident and referencing the accident report's mention that Ms. Dean might have been drinking. Chrysler has already made and lost the arguments for which the separate opinion in dissent would order a remand. I see no reason to send this case back in order to let Chrysler prove facts it could not or did not prove earlier regarding an accident that happened twelve years ago.
Finally, I address two policy concerns raised by the majority. The majority claims that this Court should follow legislative "reform efforts" which narrow the category of Michigan workers eligible for workers' disability compensation. Ante, pp 666-667. Citing Justice LEVIN's concurring opinion in McClure v General Motors Corp (On Rehearing), 408 Mich. 191, 209; 289 N.W.2d 631 (1980), the majority also argues that we should deny Ms. Dean benefits because the Legislature has determined that her no-fault insurer should bear the risk imposed by Ms. Dean's automotive excursions to the doctor's office.
As to the first contention, while it may be true that the current legislative trend is generally to limit the number and types of compensable claims,
I also reject the majority's reliance on Justice LEVIN'S McClure concurrence for two reasons. First, this argument rests on the assumption that Rucker was good law in 1972, when the no-fault act became law. It was not. I agree with the majority that the Legislature is presumed to have been aware of existing judicial interpretations of workers' compensation law when it enacted the no-fault act. We can therefore presume that the Legislature was aware that the "peculiar and increased street risk rule," the "act of God rule" and the proximate causation rule upon which Rucker rested were no longer good law. Rucker was as much an anachronism in 1972 as it is today. The majority's reasoning threatens to atrophy our body of workers' compensation laws with cases involving automobile accidents decided prior to 1972. When it is clear to the Court and the Legislature that the doctrinal bases of a prior workers' compensation case are no longer valid, there is absolutely no reason the case should survive simply because it involves an automobile
Second, in advancing this policy argument, the majority would have us fix entitlements in this area, not on the basis of our interpretation of the language of the act, but on our best guess as to how the Legislature intended to allocate risk in this area, despite the clear pronouncement in the no-fault act that no-fault liability shall always be secondary to workers' compensation liability. Ultimately, the majority opinion requires us to allocate risk in contravention to legislative direction. This Court is precluded from setting workers' compensation disability policy in this state. Buehler v Univ of Michigan, 277 Mich. 648; 270 NW 171 (1936). It is our task to take the statute as drafted by the Legislature and construe its language consistent with the legislative intent. We are only following the policy expressed by the Legislature when we construe this act to allow compensation to a worker who has proven the existence of injuries arising out of and in the course of her employment.
Furthermore, the majority fails to see that there are important differences between the Workers' Disability Compensation Act and the no-fault act besides the identity of the risk bearer. The workers' compensation act is not intended as a substitute for insurance. Rector v Ragnar-Benson, Inc, 313 Mich. 277; 21 N.W.2d 129 (1946); Luteran v Ford Motor Co, 313 Mich. 487; 21 N.W.2d 825 (1946). Therefore, we cannot believe the converse to be true, particularly where the Legislature has indicated within the language of the no-fault act that a no-fault insurer's liability is secondary to the liability of a workers' compensation insurer. See
In her automobile accident on June 28, 1978, Corrine Dean suffered injuries which arose out of and in the course of her employment. The Workers' Compensation Appeal Board found that Ms. Dean was on her way to her doctor's office, from whom she was receiving necessary treatment for injuries which she received in a compensable injury on April 1. Ms. Dean's trip to the doctor's office was a necessary and reasonable activity which she would not have undertaken but for her April 1 work-related injuries. The Court of Appeals incorrectly relied on Rucker, supra because the legal principles on which Rucker was premised are no longer valid points of law in this state. I would, therefore, reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals.
CAVANAGH, J., concurred with ARCHER, J.
BOYLE, J. (dissenting).
I concur in Justice ARCHER'S result which would adopt Professor Larson's quasi-course of employment test to determine whether plaintiff's injuries, sustained in an automobile accident en route to a doctor's appointment for the treatment of prior compensable injuries, are themselves compensable under the Workers'
The WCAB in this case made no finding on the question whether plaintiff's automobile accident was caused by intentional conduct which might be regarded as expressly or impliedly prohibited by her employer. The board did remark that it found plaintiff's description of the accident "somewhat bizarre." From the testimony taken before the hearing referee, it appears that the accident occurred while plaintiff was driving west on the north side of Eight Mile Road where it intersects with Woodward Avenue, and divides the cities of Detroit and Ferndale. Ferndale Police Officer Stephen LaRowe testified that at this point Eight Mile Road passes under Woodward Avenue. Plaintiff was not on the portion of Eight Mile Road which passes under Woodward Avenue, but rather was driving on the surface portion of Eight Mile Road which intersects Woodward Avenue. Plaintiff's vehicle struck a cement barricade and fell a distance of twenty-five feet into the portion of Eight Mile Road which passes under Woodward Avenue. Officer LaRowe could not recall whether it appeared that plaintiff had been drinking, but he testified that he had indicated on his police report that plaintiff had been drinking. From the record before us, it is not at all clear how
See also Magreta v Ambassador Steel Co, 380 Mich. 513, 520; 158 N.W.2d 473 (1968) ("`The silence of the legislature ... to this Court's interpretation of its intent ... can only be construed as consent to the accuracy of that interpretation'").
The statute was amended by 1943 PA 245 to provide, in part, "An employe, who receives a personal injury arising out of and in the course of his employment by an employer...."
The statute was amended once again by 1954 PA 175; however, the relevant phrase was not changed.
In 1969 PA 317, the Legislature revised and consolidated the workers' compensation act. Section 301 provided: "An employee, who receives a personal injury arising out of and in the course of his employment by an employer...."
That a line of this Court's decisions, handed down prior to 1980, "expanded and broadened the sweep of workers' compensation coverage" was acknowledged in McClure v General Motors Corp (On Rehearing), 408 Mich. 191, 203; 289 N.W.2d 631 (1980) (opinion of RYAN, J.). For a list of this Court's decisions, regarded by Justice RYAN as having had that effect, see id. at 203, n 4.
This Court has previously questioned the validity of the rule announced in Appleford and followed in Rucker. See, e.g., Thomas v Certified Refrigeration, Inc, 392 Mich. 623, 630, n 2; 221 N.W.2d 378 (1974), where we questioned the validity of Carner, supra and Meehan v Marion Manor Apartments, 305 Mich. 262; 9 N.W.2d 534 (1943), in light of Whetro. Both Carner and Meehan relied on Rucker and Appleford.
However, I also agree with Professor Larson that "if one looks at the actual holdings, one can find considerable support for the proposition that the pattern of principle here developed is not out of line with the main body of case law on the subject." Id.
See, for example, Adkins v Rives Plating Corp, 338 Mich. 265, 271; 61 N.W.2d 117 (1953), where we upheld the denial of compensation to a worker who aggravated an industrial injury in a bicycling accident. We noted that there was absolutely no link between Adkin's employment and bicycling, and "common sense would have dictated that, in his condition, he refrain from such exposure."
Compare with Adams v WE Wood Co, 203 Mich. 673; 169 NW 845 (1918), where compensation was awarded for the exacerbation of a compensable injury caused in a street car accident when the claimant was on his way to work. Thus, in the past we have recognized that the compensability of secondary injuries is dependent upon some reasonable relationship between the injury and the employment.
See also Schaefer v Williamston Community Schools, supra at 35, where the Court of Appeals applied the "direct and natural result" test and allowed compensation for a consequential injury. The Court cited Adkins and noted it stands "for the principle, consistent with Larson's view, that ... the claimant had to prove that his subsequent injuries were the direct and natural result of his primary injury and that his own conduct did not act as an independent intervening cause...." (Emphasis in the original.)