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Rees v. University Hospitals

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

April 13, 2017

LORI REES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS

         Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-15-849007.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Kirk R. Henrikson Erin E. Hooper Matty, Henrikson & Greve, L.L.C.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Paul W. Flowers Paul W. Flowers Co., L.P.A., Frank L. Gallucci Fred S. Papalardo Plevin & Gallucci Co., L.P.A.

          Also Listed For Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation Mike DeWine Ohio Attorney General By: Jeffrey B. Duber Assistant Attorney General

          BEFORE: Celebrezze, J., E.A. Gallagher, P.J., and McCormack, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          FRANK D. CELEBREZZE, JR., JUDGE

         {¶1} Appellant, University Hospitals ("UH"), appeals a decision of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court awarding workers' compensation benefits to appellee, Lori Rees. UH claims that the accident that resulted in Rees's injuries did not arise out of or occur in the course and scope of her duties as a nurse at UH's main campus. After a thorough review of the record and law, this court affirms.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         {¶2} On January 29, 2015, Rees was scheduled to participate in a cardiopulmonary resuscitation ("CPR") training class that was offered by UH at its main campus. CPR certification was required for continued employment as a nurse, and UH offered the classes to its employees free of charge and paid them their normal wage while attending classes. Rees's supervisor scheduled her for the class.

         {¶3} That morning, Rees arrived at UH's main campus and parked in the parking garage she normally used. She made her way to the room where the class was held. Once there, she spoke to the CPR instructor. When the instructor learned that Rees had forgotten course materials in her car, Rees was sent back out to get them. Rees went back to her car, retrieved the materials, and was on her way back to the building, walking across Circle Drive, when she fell in a pedestrian crossing. Rees sustained several injuries from her fall.

         {¶4} Rees applied for workers' compensation benefits, which were denied by the Industrial Commission hearing officer. That decision was subsequently affirmed by the Industrial Commission. Rees appealed that determination to the common pleas court on July 30, 2015. After the court denied UH's motion for summary judgment, the case proceeded to trial where the parties submitted a joint stipulation of facts and trial briefs. The trial court then issued a decision on August 4, 2016, allowing benefits. UH then filed this appeal assigning the following error for review:

I. The trial court erred, as a matter of law, by finding that Appellee-Lori Rees, was entitled to participate in the Ohio Workers' Compensation Fund, as Appellee was not injured within the course of and arising out of her employment with Appellant-University Hospitals.

         II. Law and Analysis

         {¶5} R.C. 4123.512 provides the right to appeal an order of the Industrial Commission allowing or denying workers' compensation benefits. If an appeal to the common pleas court is filed, "[t]he court, or the jury under the instructions of the court, if a jury is demanded, shall determine the right of the claimant to participate or to continue to participate in the fund upon the evidence adduced at the hearing of the action." R.C. 4123.512(D). An appeal from an Industrial Commission decision to the common pleas court involves a de novo review, where the burden of proving entitlement to workers' compensation benefits is on the claimant. Bennett v. Admr., Ohio Bur. of ...


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