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Jacobitz v. Aurora Coop.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

July 10, 2015

JOHN JACOBITZ, APPELLEE,
v.
AURORA COOPERATIVE, APPELLANT

Page 354

Appeal from the Workers' Compensation Court: J. MICHAEL FITZGERALD, Judge.

Patrick R. Guinan, of Erickson & Sederstrom, P.C., for appellant.

Jacob M. Steinkemper, of Steinkemper Law, P.C., L.L.O., for appellee.

HEAVICAN, C.J., WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, STEPHAN, MCCORMACK, MILLER-LERMAN, and CASSEL, JJ.

OPINION

Page 355

[291 Neb. 350] McCormack, J.

NATURE OF CASE

John Jacobitz was injured when he fell off a truck following a customer appreciation supper for his employer, Aurora Cooperative (the Co-op). The dispute is whether Jacobitz' injury occurred in the scope and course of employment, thus making the Co-op liable for the injury. The Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court found that Jacobitz was injured in the course of his employment. The Co-op appeals.

BACKGROUND

Customer Appreciation Supper

The Co-op owns grain elevators in various locations in southeast and south central Nebraska. The location in Ong, Nebraska, is one of the Co-op's elevators, which buys and sells grain, and sells seed, fertilizer, and other chemicals such as herbicides and insecticides.

On August 20, 2010, the Co-op in Ong held a customer appreciation supper. The supper was organized by Jerry Overturf, the location agronomy manager of the Ong location. Overturf planned the supper with the permission of his supervisor, the Co-op's area manager. Overturf invited farmers that had done business with the Ong location in the previous year. The purpose of the supper was to thank the Ong location's customers for their business during the previous year.

[291 Neb. 351] The Ong location sent a total of 17 invitations to customers. The invitation was printed on company letterhead on a

Page 356

one-page flyer that was folded, addressed, and mailed.

The Ong location's vendors sponsored the supper and paid for all of the food and drinks that were served. One of the vendors, Kruger Seeds, also provided a large smoker to cook the meat that was served. The smoker was mounted on a trailer and had to be towed behind a vehicle. Overturf towed and parked the smoker at the Ong Community Building prior to the supper on August 20, 2010.

The Co-op scheduled the supper to begin at 6 p.m. The supper was held at the Ong Community Building, which is located on Main Street in Ong. Food began to be served at 6 p.m., when the guests began to arrive. ...


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