On Appeal From Division of Workers' Compensation, Department of Labor.
Approved for Publication November 30, 1995.
Before Judges Stern, Wallace, and Newman. The opinion of the court was delivered by Newman, J.A.D.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Newman
The opinion of the court was delivered by NEWMAN, J.A.D.
Respondent IMO Industries, Inc. (IMO) appeals from a judgment awarding workers' compensation to its employee, petitioner Henry R. Shaudys. We affirm.
The facts are as follows. On March 22, 1993, petitioner arrived to report for work at IMO at about 7:30 a.m. He parked his car in the employee parking lot owned and maintained by IMO. He testified that he got out of his car and then, as he turned to walk towards his workplace and took a step with his left leg while slamming his car door shut, he twisted his left knee and heard something pop in that knee. He underwent arthroscopic surgery, and was unable to work for over fourteen weeks.
Petitioner filed a claim petition with the Division of Workers' Compensation. On September 28, 1994, a hearing was held before the Judge of compensation. Petitioner was the only witness, the parties having agreed to submit the medical records and reports without presenting as witnesses the physicians who made them. Petitioner did not allege that any condition in the parking lot contributed to his injury. The compensation Judge found that petitioner had torn the medial meniscus (cartilage between the femur and the tibia, Gordy-Gray, Attorney's Textbook of Medicine, vol. 1A, par. 7A.18 (1989)) in his left knee as a result of twisting while his leg was planted and that he also had a chondromalacia patellae (abnormal softness of the cartilage beneath the patella, Id. at par. 7.70 (1989)). The Judge awarded worker's compensation to petitioner.
IMO appeals on the grounds that petitioner's injury did not "arise out of employment" under N.J.S.A. 34:15-7. It concedes, however, that the injury occurred "in the course of employment." See, Livingstone v. Abraham & Straus, Inc., 111 N.J. 89, 543 A.2d 45 (1988). *fn1
N.J.S.A. 34:15-7 provides that,
When employer and employee shall by agreement...accept the provisions of this article[,] compensation for personal injuries to...such employee by accident arising out of and in the course of employment shall be made by the employer without regard to the negligence of the employer, according to the schedule contained in the sections...of this Title.... [Emphasis added.]
As for the meaning of "arising out of and in the course of employment," the Supreme Court has stated that "the task of construction is made easier by breaking the phrase in half, with the 'arising out of' portion construed to refer to causal origin, and the 'course of employment' portion to refer to time, place, and circumstances of the accident in relation to the employment." Coleman v. Cycle Transformer Corp., 105 N.J. 285, 288, 520 A.2d 1341 (1986) (quoting from Dean Larson at 1 A. Larson, Workmen's Compensation Law, section 6.10 (1985)). The Court noted, however, that "even though each test must be independently applied and met, it should never be forgotten that the basic concept of compensation coverage is unitary, not dual, and is best expressed in the term 'work connection.'" Id. at 289 (quoting Larson at section 6.10). The Supreme Court has also emphasized that the Workers' Compensation Act is remedial social legislation that should be liberally construed in order that its beneficent purposes may be accomplished. Fiore v. Consol. Freightways, 140 N.J. 452, 465, 659 A.2d 436 (1995); Torres v. Trenton Times Newspaper, 64 N.J. 458, 461, 317 A.2d 361 (1974).
IMO argues that the "arising out of employment" prong of the statutory test for compensation benefits was not satisfied. The Court in Coleman defined that leg of the test in the following terms:
the accident, in order to arise 'out of' the employment, must be of such nature the risk of which might have been contemplated by a reasonable person when entering the employment, as incidental to it. A risk is incidental to the employment when it belongs to or is connected with what a workman has to do in fulfilling his contract of service.
[Ibid. (quoting Rafferty v. Dairymen's League Coop. Ass'n, 16 N.J.Misc. 363, 200 A. 493 (Dep't of Labor, ...