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Breninghouse v. Italian Peoples Bakery

A-6586-06T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2008) (Unpublished)

WORKERS COMPENSATION — An employee who is injured off-premises may be entitled to workers compensation benefits where the off-premises point at which the injury occurred lies on the only route an employee can traverse and is effectively controlled by the employer or the employer uses the common area for business purposes.

An employee of a bakery clocked out of work and was walking on a nearby alley when she tripped and injured her right shoulder. She claimed workers’ compensation benefits from her employer, alleging that the alleyway was under the control of her employer. She was denied workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to a finding that her injuries did not take place on her employer’s premises. The employee appealed.

The Appellate Division noted that an employee who is injured off-premises may be compensated where the off-premises point at which the injury occurred lies on the only route that the employee can traverse, and is effectively controlled by the employer or the employer uses the common area for business purposes. It agreed with the lower court that although the alley was used by the bakery for transport of materials, it was ultimately a public street over which traffic unrelated to the bakery’s business regularly traversed. The Court noted from the record that another business parked its truck in the alley, and there were a number of residential homes with backyards that exited onto the alley. It further observed that the municipality maintained the alley and ticketed customers who illegally parked there. Lastly, the Court found that the alley was not the employee’s only route home. Accordingly, it could not conclude that the employer controlled the area, and affirmed the denial of the workers’ compensation court.


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