Addisen E. Coughlin, a minor child and dependent of Daniel Coughlin, by and through her Conservator. Kyle J. Coughlin, appellant,
County of Colfax, Nebraska, appellee.
Workers' Compensation: Appeal and Error.
Determinations by a trial judge of the Workers'
Compensation Court will not be disturbed on appeal unless
they are contrary to law or depend on findings of fact which
are clearly wrong in light of the evidence.
___ . In reviewing workers' compensation cases, an
appellate court is not free to weigh the facts anew; rather,
it accords to the findings of the compensation court the same
force and effect as a jury verdict in a civil case.
Evidence: Appeal and Error. In testing the
sufficiency of the evidence to support the findings of fact,
an appellate court considers the evidence in the light most
favorable to the successful party, every controverted fact
must be resolved in favor of the successful party, and the
appellate court gives the successful party the benefit of
every inference reasonably deducible from the evidence.
Workers' Compensation: Appeal and Error.
An appellate court is obligated in workers' compensation
cases to make its own determinations as to questions of law.
Workers' Compensation: Proof. The two
phrases "arising out of and "in the course of in
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-101 (Reissue 2010) are conjunctive;
in order to recover, a claimant must establish by a
preponderance of the evidence that both conditions exist.
___ . The phrase "arising out of," as used in Neb.
Rev. Stat. § 48-101 (Reissue 2010), describes the
accident and its origin, cause, and character, i.e., whether
it resulted from the risks arising within the scope of the
employee's job; the phrase "in the course of,"
as used in § 48-101, refers to the time, place, and
circumstances surrounding the accident.
Neb.App. 42] 7. Workers'
Compensation: Words and Phrases. The "in the
course of requirement of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-101
(Reissue 2010) has been defined as testing the work
connection as to time, place, and activity; that is, it
demands that the injury be shown to have arisen within the
time and space boundaries of the employment, and in the
course of an activity whose purpose is related to the
Workers' Compensation. Injuries
sustained by an employee while going to and from work at a
fixed place of employment do not arise out of and in the
course of employment unless a distinct causal connection
exists between an employer-created condition and the
occurrence of the injury.
Workers' Compensation: Proof. The
employee has the burden to establish the presence of a causal
connection between an employer-created condition and his or
Workers' Compensation. For the going to
and from work rule to apply, an employer must have a fixed
place of employment.
. The recognized exceptions to the going to and from work
rule, each of which follow from the rule's requirement
that an employee show a causal connection between an
employer-created condition and his or her injury, include the
employer-supplied transportation exception, the commercial
traveler exceptions, and the special errand exception.
Appeal and Error. An appellate court is not
obligated to engage in an analysis that is not necessary to
adjudicate the case and controversy before it.
from the Workers' Compensation Court: Julie A. Martin,
Moran Bryant and Bradley E. Nick, of Sidner Law, for
A. Dudley and Eric J. Sutton, of Baylor Evnen, L.L.P., for
Chief Judge, and Pirtle and Arterburn, Judges.
case arises out of the death of Daniel Coughlin, a deputy
with the Colfax County Sheriff's Department (the
Department). Daniel was survived by his daughter, Addisen E.
Coughlin. [27 Neb.App. 43] Kyle J. Coughlin, Daniel's
brother and Addisen's conservator, filed a petition in
the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court seeking benefits
for Addisen from the County of Colfax, Nebraska (the County).
Finding no causal connection between an employer-created
condition and Daniel's death, the compensation court
concluded that Daniel's death did not arise out of and in
the course of his employment with the County. As a result,
the court denied Kyle's petition. Kyle appeals, and for
the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
Daniel was driving home from work on the morning of lanuary
12, 2016, he had a cell phone conversation with Deputy Shawn
Messerlie, whose shift had just begun. The conversation took
place about 5 minutes after Daniel clocked out from his
12-hour shift. During that conversation, the left front side
of Daniel's vehicle hit a deer carcass that was lying on
the highway. Daniel's vehicle dragged the carcass for
about 70 feet before he lost control. Another vehicle driving
in the opposite lane of traffic collided with the
driver's side of Daniel's vehicle, and the collision
caused Daniel's death.
December 22, 2016, Kyle filed a petition in the Workers'
Compensation Court alleging that Daniel's death was a
compensable injury under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-101
(Reissue 2010) because it occurred in the course and scope of
his employment with the County. On account of that injury,
Kyle's petition sought benefits for Addisen under Neb.
Rev. Stat. §§ 48-122 (Cum. Supp. 2018), 48-124
(Reissue 2010), and 48-125 (Cum. Supp. 2016). In response,
the County filed an answer denying that Daniel's death
arose out of and in the course of his employment. Prior to
trial, the parties filed a joint pretrial memorandum, which
provided the following stipulations:
1. The date of the death was lanuary 12, 2OI6[, ] and at that
time Deputy Daniel Coughlin was an employee at the Colfax
County Sheriff's Department, County of Colfax, Nebraska.
[27 Neb.App. 44] 2. Daniel Coughlin was talking on his cell
phone with Deputy Shawn Messerlie while driving in his own
vehicle in Colfax County on or about January 12, 2016.
3. During said phone conversation [, ] which lasted from
approximately 7:06 a.m. to 7:11 a.m., on that date, he was
involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in his death.
4.Addisen Coughlin was at all time[s] relevant herein, a
dependent of Daniel Coughlin as defined by Neb. Rev. Stat[.]
5. The parties stipulate that the average weekly wage of
Daniel Coughlin at the time of the accident and his death ...