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Roberts v. Montgomery County

Court of Appeals of Maryland

January 28, 2014

Thaddus ROBERTS
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Maryland.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Kenneth M. Berman (H. David Leibensperger, Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, LLP, Gaithersburg, MD), on brief, for Petitioner.

Wendy Karpel, Associate County Attorney (Marc P. Hansen, County Attorney, Kathryn Lloyd, Associate County Attorney, Rockville, MD), on brief, for Respondent.

Argued before BARBERA, C.J., HARRELL, BATTAGLIA, GREENE, ADKINS, McDONALD, and WATTS, JJ.

BATTAGLIA, J.

[436 Md. 594] The present case presents itself in the Workers' Compensation context, as Thaddus Roberts, Petitioner, a paid firefighter employed by Montgomery County, Respondent, filed a claim pursuant to the Maryland Workers' Compensation Act,[1] alleging

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[436 Md. 595] that he was injured in an accident that occurred when he was leaving the Washington Capital Beltway on his motorcycle, on his way from physical training at Friendly High School, located in Fort Washington, to Fire Station 19, in Silver Spring.

The operative facts are largely undisputed [2] and are derived from Mr. Roberts's affidavit filed in support of his Motion for Summary Judgment in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, as well as his testimony before the Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission (" Commission" ). Mr. Roberts, at the time of his injury, was working in [436 Md. 596] a " light duty" [3] POSITION WITH THE Fire department, due To problems related to a prior compensable back injury and was assigned to Fire Department Headquarters, located in Rockville, as opposed to his " regular duty" station, which was Fire Station 19. While on light duty, Mr. Roberts worked four ten-hour shifts per week, starting at 7 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. Mr. Roberts, as with other firefighters including those on light duty, were encouraged by the Fire Department to engage in two hours of physical training per shift, was paid during those two hours, and could physically train at any location of his choice.

While Mr. Roberts was on light duty, approximately once per month, he would " stop by" Fire Station 19 to pick up his " work mail," [4] left for him at that location,

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" which included things such as interoffice memos and letters from Montgomery County's Department of Human Resources," and was a practice observed by firefighters on light duty, about which Mr. Roberts's supervisors were aware.[5] On the day of Mr. [436 Md. 597] Roberts's accident and resulting injury, he arrived at Friendly High School around 7 a.m. and trained until 8:30 a.m., at which time he left and traveled to gather the mail at Fire Station 19. En route, at approximately 9:15 a.m., Mr. Roberts was involved in the accident that is the genesis of the instant case.[6]

[436 Md. 598] Montgomery County contested Mr. Roberts's claim at the Commission, [7] ALLEGING

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that Mr. Roberts's injury did not arise out of or in the course of his employment, among other issues not before us.[8] The Commission, after a hearing,[9] disallowed [436 Md. 599] Mr. Roberts's claim in an order, which, in relevant part, provided:

The Commission finds on the first issue that the claimant did not sustain an accidental injury arising out of and in the course of employment as alleged to have occurred on October 28, 2010. Therefore, the remaining issues are not ...

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