yes 941500 640

How the Court Ruled

30 May, 2023 Chris Parker

yes 941500 640

If you chose A, you sided with the court in Serrata v. Suffolk County Police Department, No. 534726 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. App. Div. 05/18/23), which held that the special errand exception applied to the claim.

The court explained that that exception considers an employee to be acting within the scope of employment where, at the employer's direction, the employee undertakes a work-related errand and thereby has altered the usual geographical or temporal scheme of travel, thereby altering the risks to which the employee is usually exposed.

The exception applies if the employer both:

(1) Encouraged the errand; and
(2) Obtained a benefit from the employee's performance of the errand.

Workers' Comp 101: A case where the exception applied to the "going and coming" rule, Dziedic v. Orchard Park Central School District, 283 A.D.2d 878 (N.Y. App. Div. 2001), involved a tragic set of circumstances. In the case, a kindergarten teacher was killed in an automobile accident while traveling to school after she had stopped at a store to buy supplies for the students in her class to use in a classroom project. The court explained that "neither the employer's lack of prior knowledge of the particular errand in which [the teacher] was engaged at the time of her death nor [the teacher’s] completion of her errand and return to her regular route to school prior to the accident preclude[d] application of the special errand exception."

The court acknowledged testimony from the employer's witness that the detective’s shift and overtime pay did not begin until he arrived at the station and checked out a vehicle. But this wasn’t dispositive of whether the special errand exception applied.

“Irrespective of when claimant's overtime pay began, the record reflects that claimant was contacted at 4:15 a.m., at which time claimant began his command and coordination of the criminal investigation of the grand larceny,” the appellate court wrote. It was at this point that the detective was engaged in a special errand, as he was then required to report to work early so he could go to the crime scene in a police vehicle.

Moreover, the court stated, the employer required the detective to alter his usual travel scheme that morning, thereby altering the risks he typically faced during travel.

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