by Tyler Jones, Esq.

Those who attended the conference were fortunate to gain insight from the panel on recent Appellate Division decisions, which included Judge Gobeil providing her perspective from behind the bench. The panel covered many cases, but the most relevant cases she reviewed are below, and address causation, ingress/egress, and willful misconduct.


This case addressed the issue of how “peculiar” to specific employment a risk must be to be considered a work related risk. The facts in the case involved an injury sustained by an assistant manager of a liquor store who passed out and fell after a period of prolonged standing after working several straight days. The ALJ found that the prolonged standing required by the job constituted a risk “peculiar” to this particular type of employment because the claimant could not sit down often. The employer argued that standing was something that could cause this injury anywhere and at any time, but the Appellate Division ultimately agreed with the ALJ that the prolonged standing here was something that the employee was required to do to perform the duties assigned by his employer. Of note, the fact that the employee had pre-existing medical conditions that could have made him pre-disposed to such a fall was not enough to require a finding in favor of the employer/insurer, as the employment risk/condition must only be a “contributing proximate cause” of the injury.

Ingress/Egress and the Scheduled Lunch Break

This case addressed the conflict between the ingress/egress rule and case law on whether an injury that occurs during a mandatory scheduled lunch break arises out of and in the course of employment. The ingress/egress rule deems an injury compensable if the employee is relatively close in space and time in departing from or arriving to work. In other cases, if the break is mandatory and scheduled, then what the claimant does during it has been considered outside the scope of employment and not in furtherance of that employment. Here, an insurance adjuster had such a scheduled lunch break and slipped in water while exiting her breakroom. The Appellate Division ultimately found that the injury did not arise out of her employment. The fact that it happened on the employer’s premises was not enough on its own to change the result.

Willful Misconduct

Here, the employee of a tree cutting business fell from a tree and was not wearing a helmet as required by his employer. The employer argued that the claim was barred by the doctrine of willful misconduct because the claimant failed to follow safety procedures, especially given this particular employee’s status as a crew leader. The Appellate Division ultimately found that the employer failed to establish that the failure to wear a hardhat constituted willful misconduct. The primary takeaway here is that situations involving potential willful misconduct are fact intensive and to successfully defend a willful misconduct denial is difficult and requires more than merely ignoring safety rules.