A home health nurse was employed to provide in-home health care services to her employer’s clients. On a typical day, she traveled from one patient’s home to another in her personal vehicle. When working weekends, she was paid travel time and mileage from her residence to her first patient’s home, her travel throughout the day, and her return home. On one particular Saturday, she decided to drop off her daughter, son, and two family friends at the mall while on the way to her first patient’s home. While driving, and before dropping her passengers off, her car was struck from behind and she was injured.
In Friebel v. Visiting Nurse Association of Mid-Ohio, the Industrial Commission allowed the claim finding that Ms. Friebel was injured in the course and scope, and arising out of, her employment. Because she was not a “fixed situs” employee, her travel to her job was in the course and scope of her employment. The employer, VNA, appealed and the trial court granted summary judgment finding that there was no dispute that Friebel was still on a personal errand at the time of the accident. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision, and found that it was sufficient that Friebel had the “dual intent” to first drop her passengers off at the mall, and then proceed to her first job of the day.
The Ohio Supreme Court accepted the VNA’s discretionary appeal on the issue of whether the dual-intent/dual-purpose doctrine applied to Ohio workers’ compensation law. The court declined to recognize the dual intent doctrine for purposes of determining eligibility for worker’s compensation benefits. The court stated that the sole inquiry is whether the injury meets the established two-prong test in order to be compensable: 1) whether it was in the “course and scope” of employment; and 2) whether it “arose from” the employment. The court reasoned that “Elevating an employee’s subjective intent regarding her dual purpose above an objective review of that employee’s actions and the nature of her employment would distract from that core analysis.”