Magoon v. Hannaford Bros. Co.

Decided: June 17, 2021
Issue: Arising Out of Employment

The Employee was working as a cashier in a Hannaford grocery store on August 6, 2014, at a customer service station. The Employee had dropped a receipt and squatted to pick it up from the floor. When doing so, she felt a pain in her right knee which eventually worsened over time and led to multiple right knee surgeries and treatment for a right hip problem.

Hannaford contested whether the injury arose out of her employment. The ALJ determined that the added element of rushing during a busy time while performing her work duties distinguished this case from those where an injury occurred at work, but not because of work. The Employee was ultimately granted protection of the Act and payment of medical services.

On appeal, Hannaford argued that there was no competent evidence to support the ALJ’s finding that the Employee was rushing when she picked up the receipt and the evidence was insufficient to show that the work activity was the legal cause of the injury.

The Appellate Division disagreed, reasoning that an injury is compensable when it arises out of and in the course of employment – that is when there is a sufficient connection between injury and employment – and here, there was no dispute that the injury occurred in the course of employment. The issue was whether it arose out of the employment. The ALJ found that the store was busy, the Employee was handling the customer service checkout counter, she was rushing when she squatted down, and then she experienced immediate pain in her right knee. Noting that the ALJ specifically found the Employee credible and her testimony credible, the Appellate Division determined that the fact that a different conclusion might have been reached if other evidence in the record was relied on did not render the ALJ’s decision erroneous.

The Appellate Division further rejected Hannaford’s argument that the ALJ erred by concluding that the element of rushing satisfied the Employee’s burden of establishing legal causation for her injury, finding that the need to rush while performing work tasks distinguished this case from others where an employee turned to throw away a single receipt in the trash without haste. The Appellate Division agreed that the added element of rushing while squatting to pick up the receipt met the increased risk legal causation standard.

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