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Ibarra v. Industrial Commission of Arizona

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

July 31, 2018

CARLOS IBARRA, Petitioner,
v.
THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION OF ARIZONA, Respondent, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent Employer, STATE OF ARIZONA, Respondent Carrier.

          Special Action - Industrial Commission ICA Claim No. 20162-730266 Carrier Claim No. W201603922 Marceline A. Lavelle, Administrative Law Judge

          Hendrickson & Palmer, P.C., Phoenix By Adam P. Palmer Counsel for Petitioner Employee

          Industrial Commission of Arizona, Phoenix By Jason M. Porter Counsel for Respondent

          Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Charles W. Ferris, Jr. Counsel for Respondents Employer and Carrier

          Judge Paul J. McMurdie delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen and Judge David D. Weinzweig joined.

          OPINION

          MCMURDIE, JUDGE

         ¶1 This is a special action review of an Industrial Commission of Arizona award and decision upon review for a non-compensable claim. The issues raised by the claimant can be summarized as whether the physical assault that caused Carlos Ibarra's injuries "arose out of" his employment. We hold: (1) an assault is caused by the relations and conditions of the employment (the "friction and strain" of the employment) when the claimant and the other party to the assault have no personal contact outside of the employment, regardless of whether other job-related factors exist; and (2) the passage of time between an original dispute and an assault, known as a "cooling off" period, is not material to the question of whether the assault was work related when parties have no personal relationship outside of employment and all interactions between them occurred at work. We set aside the award and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Ibarra worked for the respondent employer, Arizona Department of Corrections ("ADOC"), as a correctional officer. He was injured during a fight with Jihad Bilal, another correctional officer at the prison. He filed a workers' compensation claim for injuries sustained during the altercation. The claim was denied for benefits by the respondent carrier, State of Arizona, and Ibarra timely requested a hearing.

         ¶3 The ALJ heard testimony from Ibarra, two other correctional officers, and three supervisory officers. Ibarra and Bilal testified they have known each other for at least four years. The men had a history of hostile work-related interactions culminating in a fight on August 11, 2016. They have never socialized, or even spoken to each other, outside of work.

         ¶4 Testimony about six incidents between Ibarra and Bilal was presented. The first incident occurred shortly after Ibarra began working at ADOC's Meadows Unit in 2012, when Bilal refused to assist Ibarra and correctional officer Travis Murty in performing "roll-ups," i.e., preparing inmates for the following day's activities. After that incident, Ibarra asked his supervisor, Sergeant Babeu, not to post him with Bilal.

         ¶5 Sergeant Babeu continued to post Ibarra with Bilal and the second incident occurred in a prison control room. Ibarra testified that Bilal asked him many personal questions about his family: where his mother worked, where his sister worked, lived, and went to school, etc. Officer Murty, who was also present at the control room, testified that Bilal insinuated he wanted to have sexual relations with Ibarra's sister.

         ¶6 The third incident occurred when Ibarra was working in the prison yard. Ibarra asked another officer to bring him a gate key. According to Ibarra, Bilal unilaterally left his assigned post to retrieve the key and verbally abused Ibarra in the process. Ibarra subsequently informed Lieutenant Perron about his difficulties with Bilal. In response, Perron directed Ibarra to speak to his direct supervisor.

         ¶7 The fourth incident occurred in May 2015. While walking down a narrow hallway during a shift change, Ibarra met Bilal and Lieutenant Perron coming from the opposite direction. Ibarra testified that Bilal intentionally bumped into him hard enough to cause him to stumble into the wall. Perron testified he was ...


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