On appeal from the Department of Labor, Division of Worker's Compensation, Claim Petition No. 2003-29013.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 11, 2009
Before Judges Axelrad and Parrillo.
Petitioner Kenia Sethman appeals from a March 18, 2008 judgment of the Division of Workers' Compensation, following trial, dismissing her claim petition because she failed to prove the underlying accident was work-related. We affirm.
The relevant facts may be briefly stated. On February 7, 2003, after exiting her car and stepping onto the sidewalk of the office complex in Iselin where Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) rented space, petitioner slipped and fell on ice, injuring herself. At the time of the accident, petitioner had been employed by respondent Adecco Employment (Adecco), a temporary placement agency, which had assigned her to work in MetLife's customer service department approximately four months prior to the incident. According to petitioner, before commencing this assignment, "Stephanie" from Adecco, after speaking with "Beatrice" from MetLife, instructed her to park on the side of the building where MetLife was located. As a result, petitioner parked in this area on a daily basis, including the day of the accident, where she supposedly observed only twelve parking spaces, although MetLife occupied at least two floors of the five-story building in the office complex.
Beatrice Mills, a nine-year employee of MetLife at the time, gave an entirely different account. She had no recollection of any conversation with "Stephanie" from Adecco, and would never have had any conversation about where to park because MetLife did not have assigned or preferred parking for its employees. Rather, there were perhaps at least 100 parking spaces, and MetLife employees would park on the sides, front or back of the building, depending on availability of space, and presumably which of two entrances the employees chose to use. Even petitioner acknowledged there were no signs in the parking lot directing employees where to park or designating certain spaces for use only by MetLife employees.
At the close of evidence, the Workers' Compensation judge, crediting Mills' testimony over that of petitioner's, which she characterized as inconsistent and implausible, found petitioner's injuries were not the result of a compensable incident and therefore dismissed the claim petition.
On appeal, petitioner raises the following issues:
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO STATE, WITH SPECIFICITY, THE BASIS FOR THE DISMISSAL OF PETITIONER'S CAUSE OF ACTION.
II. APPELLATE REVIEW OF THE LOWER COURT'S DECISION IS NECESSARY DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE COURT'S FINDINGS ARE NOT SUPPORTED BY THE RECORD AND THE LAW, ARE ARBITRARY AND CAPRICIOUS AND PETITIONER HAS SUSTAINED HER BURDEN OF PROOF.
A. The Lower court's decision is sparse not supported by the record, and the lower court due to its failure to draw a negative inference substantially prejudiced Petitioner. Thus, appellate review and remand is necessary due to the facts of the case.
B. The trial court erred in believing Ms. Mills' testimony based upon she "had nothing to gain from her testimony."
III. PETITIONER'S INJURY OCCURRED DURING THE COURSE OF HER EMPLOYMENT, THEREFORE, THE COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING PETITIONER'S CAUSE ...