The Michigan Supreme Court recently issued an Order in the case of Mohney v American International Group, et al, Supreme Court Order # 146846, regarding whether or not the plaintiff’s injuries “[arose] out of and in the course of” his employment. The Court reversed an earlier decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals, and remanded the case to the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission for entry of an Order denying the plaintiff’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Traditionally, the law has held that “an employee going to or from his or her work, while on the premises where the employee’s work is to be performed…is presumed to be in the course of his or her employment. See, e.g., Simkins v Gen Motors Corp (after remand), 453 Mich 703 (1996). In Simkins, this principle was held to include injuries that did not occur on the employee’s work-site, i.e., property “not owned, leased, or maintained by his employer,” as long as the individual was travelling in a “reasonably direct route” between a parking area that was “owned, leased, or maintained by the employer” and that person’s work-site. Id.
In Mohney, however, the Michigan Supreme Court found after several appeals that Simkins did not directly apply because the parking area at issue was not owned, leased, or maintained by the employer. The defendant employer did not own the area where the plaintiff was allegedly injured. The defendant did have access to 77 parking spaces as part of its lease for office space with the building owner, which were provided for free except for a prorated charge for maintenance, and which charge was paid with the rent. There was no evidence that the parking area was directly maintained by the employer. Initially on remand, the Magistrate held that there was “constructive maintenance” because of the prorated increase in rent for maintenance costs paid by the defendant employer to the owner of the building. The MCAC did not agreed with the theory of constructive maintenance, but found that the employer “leased” the parking area under the above-cited facts. The Michigan Supreme Court reversed, finding that the scenario was factually insufficient to establish ownership, lease, or maintenance of the parking area.