Fournier v. Aetna, Inc.

Background:
Fournier was injured after a slip and fall on an external staircase when returning from an unpaid lunch break. Aetna leased space on the second through fifth floors of the building, but did not own or maintain the building or the staircase. Aetna argued that this case was subject to the “going and coming” rule which provides that injuries occurring off the employer’s premises while an employee is coming to or from work is not, without more, compensable. The hearing officer found that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment because the injury occurred on Aetna’s premises, specifically finding that the outside staircase was part of the common area of the office building. Aetna appealed. 

Court ruling: 
The Law Court, citing Professor Larson, agreed that any common area or conveyance over which the employee has a right of passage is part of the employer’s premises even if the employer does not own, lease or maintain the area or conveyance. The Court then upheld the hearing officer’s opinion that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment, finding no error in the hearing officer’s analysis under the Comeau test.

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