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Herrera v. Courtney

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department D

June 18, 2013

ANNIE HERRERA, individually and on behalf of all statutory beneficiaries of Decedent, Herman Herrera, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
KENT COURTNEY, EMT and JANE DOE COURTNEY, husband and wife; PEABODY WESTERN COAL COMPANY, a Delaware corporation; PEABODY ENERGY CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, Defendants/Appellees.

Not for publication – Rule 28, Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure

Appeal from the Superior Court in Navajo County Cause No. S0900CV201000396 The Honorable Ralph E. Hatch, Judge.

Grysen & Associates Spring Lake, MI By B. Elliot Grysen And Law Office of Scott E. Boehm, P.C. Phoenix By Scott E. Boehm Attorneys for Plaintiff/Appellant.

Broening Oberg Woods & Wilson, P.C. Phoenix By James R. Broening Thomas Scott King Mark R. Hill Attorneys for Defendant/Appellee Courtney.

Snell & Wilmer, L.L.P. Phoenix By Paul J. Giancola Craig A. Logsdon Martha E. Gibbs Attorneys for Defendants/Appellees Peabody Western Coal Company and Peabody Energy Corporation.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

DONN KESSLER, Judge.

¶1 Plaintiff/Appellant Annie Herrera, individually and on behalf of all statutory beneficiaries of Herman Herrera, appeals the superior court's judgment dismissing her complaint against Defendants/Appellees Peabody Western Coal Company, Peabody Energy Corporation (collectively "Peabody"), and Kent Courtney for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The issue is whether our workers' compensation law bars a civil action against an employer based on allegedly negligent medical treatment at a company-run clinic: (1) for a condition unrelated to work; (2) when the clinic and services were available on the same terms and conditions to non-employees; and (3) when the employee went to the clinic because it was the only clinic available for treatment. We conclude the injury did not arise out of or occur in the course of employment. Accordingly, we reverse the dismissal of the complaint.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2 Peabody Western operates the Kayenta Mine, a coal mine located on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations about thirty miles southwest of Kayenta. Peabody Western offers a free medical clinic, staffed by a paramedic, at the mine complex. The clinic is not usually staffed after business hours, but when the clinic is closed, employees and others may obtain medical assistance by contacting the on-duty paramedic at the clinic crew quarters. Although the clinic was established to provide first aid and emergency services for Peabody Western employees, the clinic also serves non-employees who live in the area. At oral argument in this Court, Peabody and Courtney also conceded that any member of the public who sought emergency treatment at the clinic or crew quarters after hours would be treated on the same terms as a Peabody Western employee. It was undisputed that the clinic is the only medical clinic within nineteen miles for treating emergencies.

¶3 Peabody Western employed Herman at the Kayenta Mine. Herman and his wife, Annie, lived on the Navajo Reservation within the area leased to the mine.

¶4 Herman worked the day shift on July 24, 2008, and clocked out at 4:23 p.m. That evening after dinner, he began feeling ill and went to the Peabody Western medical clinic. Courtney, an emergency medical technician, was on call that night for after-hours care. He examined Herman at the crew quarters and administered aspirin. Later that night, Herman collapsed at his home. Family summoned Courtney, who responded to the home and attempted to stabilize Herman, then transported him to meet an ambulance from Kayenta so he could be taken to a hospital. Herman later died from a heart attack.

¶5 Annie filed this action for wrongful death, alleging Courtney negligently treated Herman. Peabody Western and Courtney moved to dismiss, arguing the superior court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Arizona's Workers' Compensation Act, Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") sections 23-901 through 23-1091 (1995 & Supp. 2012)[1] ("the Act"), provided Annie's exclusive remedy. The court granted Annie's request for additional time, pursuant to Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f), to conduct discovery regarding whether workers' compensation coverage applied to Herman's injury. Thereafter, the parties submitted additional evidence regarding the jurisdictional issue.

¶6 Annie argued Herman's injury did not arise out of or in the course of his employment pursuant to A.R.S. ยง 23-1021(A) (1995) and thus was not compensable under the workers' compensation scheme. She also urged the court to apply the dual capacity doctrine, which allows an employee who is otherwise subject to the exclusive remedy of workers' compensation to sue in tort when he is injured while in a relationship with the employer that is the same as any other member of the public. The court granted the motion to dismiss, ...


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