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Chambers v. Monroe County Board of Comm'rs

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 16, 2014

CHAMBERS
v.
MONROE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

Cert. applied for.

Workers' compensation. Monroe Superior Court. Before Judge Fears.

Knott & Lemon, Paul M. Knott, for appellant.

Murphy & Sibley, Phillip A. Sibley, for appellee.

BOGGS, Judge. Ellington, P. J., Doyle, P. J., Dillard and Branch, JJ., concur. Barnes, P. J., and Miller, J., dissent.

OPINION

Boggs, Judge.

We granted claimant Pamela Chambers' discretionary application in this workers' compensation case because it appeared that additional precedent in this area would benefit the bench and bar, and for a review of the entire record to ensure that the facts supported the Board's findings. After considering the record, including the claimant's testimony, and given the deferential standard of review, the Board's finding that Chambers' injury was not compensable because it was " idiopathic" -- that is, not " arising out of" her [328 Ga.App. 404] employment -- was supported by some evidence and therefore must be affirmed.

When reviewing awards in workers' compensation cases, both the appellate court and the superior court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the party prevailing before the appellate division of the State Board of Workers' Compensation. It is axiomatic that the findings of the State Board of Workers' Compensation, when supported by any evidence, are conclusive and binding.

( Citation, punctuation and footnote omitted.) Med. Office Mgmt. v. Hardee, 303 Ga.App. 60, 61 (693 S.E.2d 103) (2010). So viewed, the evidence shows that on January 27, 2012, Pamela Chambers was employed as an firefighter/EMT for Monroe County. After returning from a call to the fire station, she sat down at a desk to complete some paperwork and then remained at the desk watching television. Her supervisor asked her to get up from the desk so that he could use it. When she rose from her chair, Chambers felt and heard a " pop" in her left knee. She continued to work, but as the pain increased

Page 134

she went to the emergency room. She had knee surgery and will probably need a knee replacement.

The ALJ found the injury compensable on the basis that Chambers was required to be in the location where she was injured and was following her supervisor's orders. The employer appealed, and the Appellate Division vacated the ALJ's award. It found " no evidence that the Employee slipped, tripped, or fell or came in contact with any object or hazard that increased her risk of injury," but that she simply rose from a seated position. The Appellate Division therefore concluded that Chambers had failed to show a causal connection between her employment and her injury or that her injury arose out of her employment. The superior court affirmed, noting the deference it was required to give the findings of the Appellate Division, and finding that some evidence in the record supported the award. From this judgment, Chambers appeals.

The legal standard governing whether an injury " arises out of" employment is well established. In Chaparral Boats v. Heath, 269 Ga.App. 339 (606 S.E.2d 567) (2004), a 12-judge whole court decision,[1] we held:

Where the injury would have occurred regardless of where the employee was required to be located, and results from a [328 Ga.App. 405] risk to which the employee would have been equally exposed apart from any condition of the employment, there is no basis for finding a causal connection between the employment and the injury, and no basis for compensation under the positional risk doctrine. The general rule still applies that the injury does not arise out of the employment where the causative danger is not " peculiar to the work" in a way that causally connects the employment to the injury.

( Citations omitted.) Id. at 343. In Chaparral Boats, Heath was walking " at a quicker than normal pace" across her employer's parking lot in order to get to work on time when she " felt popping and ...


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