In this appeal, this Court is asked to clarify when an employer has an obligation to pay worker's compensation to an employee who is injured while traveling to work under the "going and coming" provision, M.C.L. § 418.301(3); M.S.A. § 17.237(301)(3), of the Worker's Disability Compensation Act. We hold that under subsection 301(3) of the act, an employee does not suffer an injury that occurred in the course of his employment while traveling to work, when he was injured on a public street, not maintained by the employer, as he was walking from a private parking lot to the worksite. In the instant case, plaintiff drove to a parking lot provided by General Motors, traveled to a private parking lot, and then was injured while walking across a public street from the private parking lot on her way to the General Motors plant. We vacate the Court of Appeals decision to reverse the grant of worker's compensation benefits and remand to the Worker's Compensation Appellate Commission enable it to determine whether the injury occurred in the course of her employment consistent with the standards articulated in this opinion.
FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
The parties stipulated the facts of the case. Because the parties dispute what reasonable inferences may be drawn from the stipulation, we provide the full text of the stipulation:
Elizabeth A. Simkins is an employee of the Fisher Body Flint Plant of General Motors Corporation. She worked on the first shift, which started at 6:18 a.m.
At some time before 6:00 a.m. on September 4, 1984, Mrs. Simkins drove her car to the Fisher Body Flint Plant and parked on the Fisher Body premises North parking lot. She exited her car and, after an unknown period, got into the car of a fellow employee, Perry Mitru. They drove onto Saginaw Street, a public street bordering the east side of the Fisher Plant, headed south to Hemphill and turned right, or west, onto Hemphill. Hemphill is a public street bordering the Fisher Plant on the south side. It has four lanes, two each for west and east bound traffic.
Mr. Mitru drove his car into a privately owned parking lot on the south side of Hemphill and parked. He and Mrs. Simkins alighted and, after paying the parking attendant, started across Hemphill to the Plant Gate at Post 11. The lot in which Mr. Mitru parked was located almost directly across the street from the Plant Gate and about in the middle of the block.
At about 5:58 a.m., twenty minutes before her shift was to start, Mrs. Simkins was struck by an automobile driven by Tonya D. Anderson. At the moment that she was struck, Mrs. Simkins was going north across Hemphill and was in the east bound inside lane near the double yellow center line.
The parties agree that this Court must rely on this stipulation alone in order to resolve whether plaintiff's injury arose out of and in the course of her employment.
On August 21, 1985, plaintiff, through her guardian Thomas Simkins, filed an amended petition seeking worker's compensation under § 301 of the WDCA against defendants General Motors and the Second Injury Fund.
On May 7, 1987, General Motors filed an appeal of the decision with the Worker's Compensation Appeal Board. Plaintiff's no-fault insurance carrier, Valley Forge Insurance Company, moved to intervene as a plaintiff on July 19, 1988, alleging that it had paid more than $400,050 in medical and health care expenses on plaintiff's behalf. It sought reimbursements from General Motors for these costs.
In an opinion filed on June 26, 1991, the WCAB, in a two to one decision, affirmed the referee's ruling to award plaintiff worker's compensation benefits:
The dissent concluded otherwise:
I find that defendant's provision for an on-premises parking lot which was not shown by plaintiff to deny any reasonable safe access to its plant, with her leaving those premises to park in an undesignated private lot and to cross a street not shown to be under defendant's control or the protection against street traffic presumably
General Motors appealed in the Court of Appeals, which denied leave.
On remand, the Court of Appeals reversed the WCAB and ruled that plaintiff was not eligible for worker's compensation. The Court reasoned that previous Michigan cases only allow compensation for employees injured while traveling to work from a parking area maintained by the employer, not from a private parking area. 208 Mich.App. 453, 457, 528 N.W.2d 775 (1995). The Court concluded:
Plaintiff filed an application for leave, which this Court granted.
Under the worker's compensation act,
It is well settled that an employee who seeks worker's compensation must show by competent evidence not only the fact of an injury, but also that the injury occurred in connection with his employment, arising out of and in the course of that employement. Hills v. Blair, 182 Mich. 20, 26, 148 N.W. 243 (1914). As remedial legislation, this Court construes the act liberally to grant rather than deny benefits. Bower v. Whitehall Leather Co., 412 Mich. 172, 191, 312 N.W.2d 640 (1981).
The primary purpose of the worker's compensation act is to provide benefits to the victims of work-related injuries by allocating the burden of these payments to the employer, and, therefore, ultimately, to consumers.
As a general rule, an employee who is injured while going to or coming from work cannot recover worker's compensation. Bush v. Paramenter, Forsythe, Rude & Dethmers, 413 Mich. 444, 451, 320 N.W.2d 858 (1982). The statute's going and coming provision furnishes an exception to the general rule:
This exception only creates a presumption that the injury was "in the course of [the employee's] employment," not that it "aros[e] out of" his employment under subsection 301(1).
Despite the apparent clarity of the statute requiring that the injury occur "on the premises where the employee's work is to be performed," this Court has traditionally construed this phrase in a way that would allow recovery under the appropriate circumstances even where the injury occurred on property that was not owned, leased, or maintained by the employer.
The first sentence of the going and coming provision was first enacted in 1954
The substance and wording of the subsection's first sentence were taken from Brink, supra, and, by adopting its language, the Legislature intended to restore the state of the law as interpreted by the Court in Brink. Dyer, supra at 95-96, 85 N.W.2d 152 (Black, J.). The Legislature wished to remedy the situation from Daniel v. Murray Corp. of America, 326 Mich. 1, 3, 39 N.W.2d 229 (1949), in which this Court had denied relief to an employee who suffered an injury in the employer's parking lot because he was no longer actually performing his job but rather was leaving for the day.
Following Freiborg and Dyer, this Court, in Lasiewicki v. Tusco Products Co., 372 Mich. 125, 131, 125 N.W.2d 479 (1963), examined a case in which an employee slipped and fell when she was leaving for lunch while she was walking on the unpaved portion of a public right of way, which was used by employees for parking cars near the plant worksite. This Court applied the going and coming provision under 1948 CL 412.1, the predecessor of subsections 301(1), (3), and explained that an employee need not strictly be on the employer's "premises" in order to be presumed to be in the course of his employment:
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From this reasoning, in Lasiewicki, supra at 127, 129-131, 125 N.W.2d 479, this Court held that the employee could recover, even though the parking area was a public right of way, because the parking area was "used and maintained" by her employer and therefore she was on the "premises of [the] employer  within the meaning of the statute...." Id. at 131, 125 N.W.2d 479. In this way, the Court expanded the meaning of "premises" under the statute to include more than merely the employer's property.
In 1980, the Legislature enacted several reforms of the worker's compensation act under 1980 P.A. 357, including an amendment of subsection 301(3), previously subsection 301(2), by adding its second and third sentences prohibiting recovery under worker's compensation for an injury that occurs during the pursuit of a recreational activity in order to eliminate certain "abuses" in the law. Senate Analysis Section, SB 1044, adopted as 1980 P.A. 357, January 7, 1981. Through these 1980 amendments, the Legislature intended to narrow and restrict the eligibility qualifications for injured workers under worker's compensation. Dean v. Chrysler Corp., 434 Mich. 655, 667, 455 N.W.2d 699 (1990).
Nevertheless, relying on the phrase "zone, environments, and hazards" quoted in Lasiewicki, the Court of Appeals has ruled that an employee may recover for an injury that occurred on property not owned, leased, or maintained by the employer if the employee was traveling to or from work.
Plaintiff argues that this Court's most recent examination of a worker's injury that occurred while the employee was traveling away from work is not relevant, McClure v. General Motors Corp (On Rehearing), supra, overruling 402 Mich. 392, 262 N.W.2d 829 (1978), because in McClure the injured employee was leaving during his lunch period on personal business. The employee was walking across a public street to a restaurant when he was struck and injured by an automobile.
In writing for the plurality, Justice Ryan did not apply the going and coming provision of § 301, but rather distinguished Howard v. Detroit, 377 Mich. 102, 139 N.W.2d 677 (1966),
In his concurrence, Justice Levin specifically did not rely on the going and coming provision to resolve the question. See id. at 218, n. 18, 289 N.W.2d 631. Rather, he noted that there is an argument that an employee could recover for a lunchtime motor vehicle accident for an "off-premises injur[y]" under the logic of Haller v. Lansing, 195 Mich. 753, 761, 162 N.W. 335 (1917).
A decision in favor of coverage for such injuries, then, would cause § 3109(1)[
Even though this Court did not examine McClure as a case governed by the going and coming provision of subsection 301(3), the plain language of the statute indicates that it applies because when an employee returns from lunch or leaves for it, he is "going to or from his or her work...." There is no requirement that he must be going to work at the beginning of his work day or leaving from work at the end of the work day. Moreover, this Court has applied the going and coming provision in the other two seminal lunchtime injury cases relevant for this appeal.
In holding that plaintiff did not suffer an injury that was compensable under worker's compensation, the Court of Appeals examined Michigan case law on the "going to work" parking lot cases and concluded that an employee may recover only where there is "at least some slight employer connection to the employee's injury...." Simkins, supra at 457. It distilled these two principles from the Court of Appeals case law:
This analysis accords with Professor Larson's examination of state case law for the United States for an injury that occurs between an employer's parking lot and the employer's worksite:
[M]ost courts, but by no means all, hold that an injury in a public street or other off-premises place between the plant and the parking lot is in the course of employment, being on a necessary route between the two portions of the premises. But if the parking lot is a purely private one, the principle of passage between two parts of
This analysis is also consistent with the result in McClure (the employee was injured while crossing a public street when he was traveling from work to a restaurant).
We adopt the standard articulated by the Court of Appeals and hold that, when an employee is going to work or coming from work, an injury that occurs on property not owned, leased, or maintained by his employer is in the course of employment only if the employee is traveling in a reasonably direct route
This rule conforms to the original purpose underlying the going and coming provision, i.e., to protect employees while they were still on the employer's premises but no longer actually performing their jobs. See Freiborg, supra at 107, 85 N.W.2d 145 (Dethmers, C.J.). We recognize that the statute does not, according to the past rulings of this Court, strictly require that the employee be on the employer's property, but merely requires that the employee be "`at or near his place of employment.'"
The Court of Appeals noted that this analysis may conflict with Fischer v. Lincoln Tool & Die Co., 37 Mich.App. 198, 194 N.W.2d 476 (1971), but this case has been previously questioned. See Tedford v. Stouffer's Northland Inn, 106 Mich.App. 493, 501-502, 308 N.W.2d 254 (1981), citing 1 Larson, Workmen's Compensation Law, § 15.12, p. 4-10. We do not address the validity of this case.
In the instant case, the Court of Appeals reversed the WCAB and denied plaintiff worker's compensation benefits.
Plaintiff argues that the Court of Appeals decision cannot be reconciled with the earlier Court of Appeals decision to reverse the WCAB's denial of grant in Smith v. Greenville Products Co., 185 Mich.App. 512, 462 N.W.2d 789 (1990). In Smith, an employee was struck by a car on a public street while walking from the employer-provided parking lot to his worksite. The Court noted that the employee could recover worker's compensation even though there was "another route to defendant's plant which would not require him to cross the street...." Id. at 516, 462 N.W.2d 789. Under the rule articulated by this opinion, this is the proper result because the employee was traveling to work from his employer's parking lot to the worksite. Although there was at least one other route available to him,
In the instant case, Simkins originally drove to a parking lot maintained by General Motors, left this lot, and traveled to a private lot with a coemployee before she traveled to her worksite. The stipulation is silent regarding her reason for traveling to this private lot, and the stipulation also does not explain whether this was a reasonably direct route from the employer-provided lot to her worksite. Rather than resolve these factual questions on appeal, we remand this matter to the WCAC for further proceedings. We also direct the commission to provide the parties a full opportunity to present additional facts regarding these issues to ensure a proper resolution of the matter.
We conclude that under the going and coming provision of § 301 of the worker's compensation act, an employee is injured in the course of his employment while traveling to or from work when either (1) the injury occurred on property owned, leased, or maintained by the employer, or (2) the injury occurred while the employee was traveling on a reasonably direct path between the worksite and an employee parking lot owned, leased, or maintained by the employer. This framework is consistent with the way this Court has interpreted the going and coming provision, fulfills the statute's purposes, generally fits Michigan case law, and reflects the general rule articulated by Professor Larson. We vacate the Court of Appeals decision reversing the WCAB's decision to uphold the hearing referee's grant of worker's compensation benefits and remand to the WCAC for further proceedings.
BRICKLEY, C.J., and LEVIN, CAVANAGH, BOYLE, and MALLETT, JJ., concurred with RILEY, J.
I agree with the majority opinion that the standard under M.C.L. § 418.301(3); M.S.A. § 17.237(301)(3),
However, I write separately because I would affirm the Court of Appeals reversal of the Worker's Compensation Appellate Board's decision to award plaintiff worker's compensation benefits. I would not remand this case to WCAB for further factfinding because the above standard articulated by the majority was appropriately applied by the Court of Appeals to the facts as stipulated by the parties. Therefore, there is no need to remand this case for further factfinding.
Furthermore, I would overrule Fischer v. Lincoln Tool & Die Co., 37 Mich.App. 198, 194 N.W.2d 476 (1971), because that case conflicts with the principles set forth in the majority's opinion, parts A through D, and with the majority's standard. The Fischer Court awarded worker's compensation benefits to an employee, who was injured while walking to work after parking her car on a public street. The Fischer Court considered the street to be part of the employer's "premises," as defined by the worker's compensation statute, because the employer failed to provide parking and therefore, expected its employees to park on the public street. Id. at 202, 194 N.W.2d 476.
This determination by the Court of Appeals was appropriately and persuasively criticized in Tedford v. Stouffer's Northland Inn, 106 Mich.App. 493, 501-502, 308 N.W.2d 254 (1981), as follows:
The implicit trend in this manner of decisionmaking is a steady dilution of legislative limitations on compensation. The Supreme Court has specifically disapproved of such judicial "reform" of the compensation act. [McClure, v. General Motors Corp. (On Rehearing), 408 Mich. 191, 204, 289 N.W.2d 631 (1980)]. While the statutory coming-and-going rule does not directly limit coverage to on-premise injuries ... it must be remembered that the rule is an exception to the basis requirement that compensable injuries arise out of and in the course of the employment. [Id. at 502, 308 N.W.2d 254. (citations omitted).]
Fischer is an unnecessary expansion of the statutory coming-and-going rule of the worker's compensation act because it extends liability to situations that the employer has neither created nor controls. Id. at 502, 308 N.W.2d 254, citing 1 Larson, Workmen's Compensation Law, § 15.12, p 4-10. Because I agree with the majority's articulation of the standard under M.C.L. § 418.301(3); M.S.A. § 17.237(301)(3),
Thus, it appears that according to this ruling General Motors would only be responsible for plaintiff's medical expenses if Valley Forge did not pay for them.
We do not address the merit of the Howard Court's application of the rule to its particular facts.
From an examination of cases cited by defendant, and others we have examined in which it has been held that an employee injured on the premises of his employer during the noon hour or other temporary suspension of work was not under the act, we think it manifest that the controlling reason for denying an award in those cases rests upon the proven facts that the employee broke the so-called nexus between workman and employer by some manifestly reckless and unreasonable hazard, amounting to intentional and wilful misconduct, or by disregarding, or disobeying, some warning of danger at the place of injury or prohibition relating to the thing being done, either addressed to the workman or promulgated as a general rule of conduct while on the premises. [Id. at 761, 162 N.W. 335.]
The no-fault insurer may reduce its no-fault payments by the injured party's worker's compensation benefits under subsection 3109(1). Mathis v. Interstate Motor Freight System, 408 Mich. 164, 176, 289 N.W.2d 708 (1980).