Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
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.
Listed For Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation Mike
DeWine Ohio Attorney General By: Jeffrey B. Duber Assistant
BEFORE: Celebrezze, J., E.A. Gallagher, P.J., and McCormack,
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
D. CELEBREZZE, JR., JUDGE
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.
Factual and Procedural History
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.
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.
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
Law and Analysis
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