Arkansas Court Hands Legal Victory to Workers’ Comp Applicant

December 10, 2010 ( – The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled that a nursing home employee was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits after breaking her arm in a fall during a smoking break.

With that ruling, the state’s high court threw out a decision earlier this year by the Arkansas Court of Appeals, which ruled against plaintiff Ronna Woods, and upheld a subsequent decision by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission in Woods’s favor.

Justice Jim Gunter, writing for the Supreme Court, said the facts of the case supported the notion that Woods was still acting for her employer’s interests when she stepped outside for a smoking break and then had the accident on the way back into the facility where she was to collect her paycheck and clock out after an employer mandated professional seminar.

Gunter wrote that “a reasonable person could reach the same decision as the commission based on the facts in the record and find that Woods “was continuing to advance her employer’s interests, at least indirectly, by remaining on the premises until she had received her paycheck, filled out any necessary paperwork and clocked out.”

The ruling is at