Charles Kuper recently secured an Order of Dismissal in the case of Loeffler v. Columbus Public Schools. The sole issue in the case was whether the employee suffered an accident that arose out of her employment when she fell as she was walking because her sandal stuck to the floor. At the time of her fall, the employee was wearing sandals and she was walking at a normal pace. The floor was made of white tile, had been waxed to start the school year, it was dry, and in its normal condition. On cross-examination at trial, the employee testified she did not see anything on the floor where her sandal stuck and that she did not know why her sandal stuck to the floor.
In dismissing the case, the Compensation Court determined the employee failed to prove that something about her job or the condition of the floor caused her sandal to stick and result in her fall. The Court relied on the prior holding in Maridiaga v. Specialty Finishing & Travelers Indem. Co., 24 Neb.App. 199, 884 N.W.2d 153 (2016), which “stands for the proposition that when an employee is injured wile merely walking on her employer’s premises, the employee must show some causal nexus between the injury and her employment.” Thus, the Compensation Court found the employee in Loeffler failed to prove her accident and injury arose out of her employment.
One important aspect off the defense in Loeffler was the employee incident report the employer had her complete after the accident. In the report, the employee was asked to describe what could be done to avoid a similar accident in the future. The employee, in completing the report, did not identify a work condition that could be changed. Instead, she wrote, “Walk carefully. Remind myself to pick my feet up. Maybe use a cane.” These statements supported the finding of the Compensation Court as they do not identify a workplace connection. All of this highlights the importance of completing incident reports and obtaining information from employees about the accident as soon as possible after the accident.