Fetzer v. North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance

815 N.W.2d 539 (2012)

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Fetzer v. North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance

North Dakota Supreme Court
815 N.W.2d 539 (2012)

Facts

Beverly Fetzer (plaintiff) was walking in a hallway in her place of employment during working hours and thought she heard someone call her name. When Fetzer turned around to see who was calling her, she caught her foot on the floor and fell down. Fetzer fractured her hip and wrist in the fall, and she filed a claim for workers’-compensation benefits with North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) (defendant). WSI denied Fetzer’s claim, holding that Fetzer’s injury did not arise out of her employment. Fetzer challenged WSI’s decision before an administrative-law judge (ALJ). In proceedings before the ALJ, Fetzer stipulated that the floor on which she fell was not slippery and was in good condition. Fetzer also stipulated that her fall was unexplained. However, Fetzer argued that her employer should bear the risk of the unexplained fall under the positional-risk doctrine because Fetzer was at work performing work-related functions when the fall occurred. The ALJ rejected Fetzer’s argument and affirmed WSI’s decision, holding that North Dakota law requires workers’-compensation claimants to prove that their injuries arose from their employment, and Fetzer had not made the necessary showing of causation. A North Dakota state district court subsequently affirmed the decision denying benefits, and Fetzer appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kapsner, J.)

Dissent (Maring, J.)

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