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Gaines v. District of Columbia Department of Employment Services

Court of Appeals of The District of Columbia

June 27, 2019

Lemakia Gaines, Petitioner,
v.
District of Columbia Department of Employment Services, Respondent, and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Intervenor.

          Argued January 17, 2019

          On Petition for Review of an Order of the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services Compensation Review Board (CRB-106-17)

          Bruce M. Bender, with whom Justin M. Reiner and Michael J. Foley were on the brief, for petitioner.

          Karl A. Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Loren L. AliKhan, Solicitor General, and Stacy L. Anderson, Acting Deputy Solicitor General at the time the statement was filed, filed a statement in lieu of brief.

          Mark H. Dho, with whom Sarah O. Rollman was on the brief, for intervenor.

          Before Thompson, Beckwith, and McLeese, Associate Judges.

          McLeese, Associate Judge.

         Petitioner Lemakia Gaines challenges an order of the Compensation Review Board (CRB) denying her claim for workers' compensation benefits. We vacate the order.

         I.

         After an evidentiary hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found the following facts, which appear to be undisputed. On February 3, 2016, Ms. Gaines was scheduled to work a "swing shift" as a rail-station manager for intervenor Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Her first shift was at the Dupont Circle station and ended at 4:15 p.m. Her second shift was at the Farragut North station and was scheduled to begin at 6:20 p.m. The period between the two shifts was an unpaid break. After finishing her first shift, Ms. Gaines rode the Metrorail one stop to the Farragut North station. Ms. Gaines was in uniform, and she was required to assist customers while traveling in the Metrorail system, whether or not she was on duty or on a break.

         Ms. Gaines planned to take her break and eat lunch in the employee-only auxiliary room at the Farragut North station before starting her next shift. WMATA permits employees to use such rooms as break or lunch rooms. Break rooms are accessible only with a master key issued to station managers and employees.

         After Ms. Gaines arrived at the Farragut North station, she took the escalator up to the street to get a soda from a nearby store. Around 4:40 p.m., on her way back down the escalator, she slipped and fell down several steps. Ms. Gaines felt immediate pain in her neck, back, left shoulder, and left arm, and was bleeding on her left leg. She was diagnosed with contusions, abrasions, and strains to the left shoulder, left arm, lumbar spine, thoracic spine, and neck. Ms. Gaines was placed off of work and remained off of work in the following months due to continuing pain. Ms. Gaines filed a workers' compensation claim for medical expenses and disability benefits.

         The ALJ granted Ms. Gaines's claim. WMATA sought review by the CRB, which reversed and directed that Ms. Gaines's claim be denied. According to the CRB, Ms. Gaines's claim did not "arise out of" Ms. Gaines's employment, as required by D.C. Code § 32-1501(12) (2019 Repl.), ...


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