Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:At the time of her injury, Liana Leordeanu worked for Schering Plough as a pharmaceutical sales representative. Her job duties required that she spend a significant portion of her time traveling to pharmacies and doctors’ offices within a designated area. Schering Plough provided Leordeanu with a car and with a storage unit for storing drug samples and marketing materials. Leordeanu’s storage unit was located at a storage facility next door to the apartment complex where she lived. In addition, Leordeanu testified that she maintained a business office in her apartment. From time to time as part of her job, Leordeanu would entertain doctors and their staff at local restaurants and pay for their drinks and food. On March 21, 2003, Leordeanu met with a doctor and members of his staff for dinner at La Feria Restaurant in south Austin. After dinner and on her way home from the restaurant, Leordeanu was involved in a single car accident and sustained serious injury. According to Leordeanu, she had intended to stop at the storage unit next door to her apartment complex on her way home from the restaurant and then to finish job-related paper work at her home office. American Protection Insurance Co., the workers’ compensation carrier for Schering Plough, denied Leordeanu’s claim for compensation for the injuries she sustained in the accident. Leordeanu then submitted the dispute to the Texas Department of Insurance Workers’ Compensation Commission Division. The division held a contested case hearing and determined that Leordeanu did not have a compensable claim, because she was not in the course and scope of employment at the time of the accident. An appeals panel of the division affirmed. Leordeanu sought judicial review of the appeals panel’s decision. American Protection filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the dual purpose rule of the Workers’ Compensation Act barred Leordeanu’s claim for benefits, “because there has been no evidence offered that Ms. Leordeanu would not have gone home (that she would have abandoned the trip home) absent a business reason for going to the [storage unit] . . . .” The district court denied American Protection’s motion for summary judgment, and the case was tried to a jury. The jury found that Leordeanu sustained a compensable injury, and the district court entered judgment in favor of Leordeanu. HOLDING:Reversed and rendered. The issue presented involved the application of Texas Labor Code �401.011(12)(B), which is known as the “dual purpose rule.” This section, the court stated, governs the compensability of injuries sustained by an employee while traveling for both personal and business purposes. American Protection argued that no evidence supported the jury’s finding that Leordeanu’s injury was compensable and that the trial court erred as a matter of law in applying the dual purpose rule of �401.011(12)(B). Under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, the court stated, an insurance carrier is liable for compensation for an employee’s injury if the injury arises out of and in the course and scope of employment. Generally, an employee is not in the course and scope of his employment while driving his own vehicle to and from his place of work. The general rule, the court stated, is that travel to and from work, without some special instruction or “special mission” from the employer directing the employee to proceed from one place to another, is considered travel for personal purposes rather than travel for business purposes. A different situation, the court stated, is presented when an employee is engaged in travel that has both personal and business-related purposes. The dual purpose rule is designed to address whether an employee is in the course and scope of employment for the purpose of coverage when injury occurs during travel that is for both personal and business purposes. The rule provides that injuries incurred during travel for the dual purpose of furthering the affairs or business of the employer and of furthering the employee’s personal or private affairs shall not be deemed in the course of employment unless: 1. the travel to the place of occurrence of the injury would have been made even had there been no personal or private affairs of the employee to be furthered by the travel; and 2. the travel would not have been made had there been no affairs or business of the employer to be furthered by the travel. Under the dual purpose rule of �401.011(12)(B), the court stated, it is not enough that Leordeanu intended to finish certain job-related paper work upon returning to her apartment for her injury to be compensable. Rather, the court found that under the rule, Leordeanu had to show that she would not have returned home after dinner on the night of the accident but for the need to complete business-related paperwork. However, the court found no evidence in the record to that effect. Therefore, the court concluded that no evidence supported the jury’s finding that Leordeanu sustained a compensable injury. OPINION:Waldrop, J.; Pemberton and Waldrop, JJ. DISSENT:Patterson, J.; “Because there is ample evidence to support the jury’s finding, and the evidence is legally and factually sufficient, I would affirm the judgment. . . . [T]he Legislature surely did not intend to provide that an employee whose employment requires him to travel at his own expense in his own automobile on streets and highways, either constantly or intermittently, should be denied compensation if accidently [sic] injured while thus exposed to risks growing out of his employment. Any such holding would be wholly unjust to salesmen, servicemen, repairmen, deliverymen, and a host of others who may be required to use their own automobiles in their work, and would be a strict rather than a liberal interpretation of the Workmen’s Compensation Act.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.