Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #358091; Unpublished
Judges Riordan, Borrello, and Letica; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
Workers Disability Compensation Act (MCL 418.101, Et Seq.)
In this unanimous, unpublished, per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s denial of Defendant June Louise Buell’s motion for summary disposition, in which she sought dismissal of Plaintiff Oleg Zubovich’s auto negligence action against her. The Court of Appeals held that Zubovich’s action was barred by the Workers Compensation Disability Act (WDCA), MCL 418.101, et seq., because Buell and Zubovich were co-employees, both acting in the course and scope of their employment, at the time Buell struck Zubovich with her vehicle.
Oleg Zubovich, an employee of Crystal Gardens, was picking up trash along the driveway that led from the roadway to Crystal Gardens’ building, when June Louise Buell, also an employee of Crystal Gardens, crashed into him with her car on her way in to work. Bell was arriving to work 15 minutes prior to her shift, as was her custom, and the driveway where the crash occurred was technically on Crystal Gardens’ property. After the crash, Zubovich filed an auto negligence action against Buell, arguing that such an action would not barred by the Workers Compensation Disability Act because of MCL 418.827(1), which the Court described as “essentially providing that a negligence claim is barred [by the WDCA] ‘against a coemployee only where both employers are acting in the course and scope of their employment at the time the injury occurred.’ ” Zubovich conceded that he was acting in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the crash, but argued that Buell was not. Buell moved for summary disposition, arguing to the contrary, but the trial court denied her motion.
The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s summary disposition order, holding that Zubovich’s negligence action was barred by the WDCA because both he and Buell were in the course and scope of their employment at the time of the crash. With respect to Buell, the Court turned to MCL 418.301(3), which provides, ‘[a]n employee going to or from his or her work, while on the premises where the employee’s work is to be performed, and within a reasonable time before and after his or her working hours, is presumed to be in the course of his or her employment.’ Buell was on Crystal Gardens’s premises where her work was to be performed within a “reasonable time” (15 minutes) before her working hours. Therefore, she was acting in the course and scope of her employment with Crystal Gardens at the time of the crash.
“The evidence in this case shows that defendant was in the course of her employment at the time of the accident under MCL 418.301(3). Defendant was on her way to work, was on the employer’s premises, and was within a reasonable time before her working hours. Specifically, she testified that she was on the employer-owned driveway leading to Crystal Gardens and was arriving fifteen minutes before her shift, which she normally did. Further, she was not engaged in any social or recreational activity unrelated to her employment. Therefore, defendant was within the course of her employment and the exclusive remedy provision of the WDCA applies, barring plaintiff’s claim against defendant.”