The Supreme Court of North Carolina held that a truck driver' who while traveling exited his truck an assualted anothe driver in a fit of road rage was not within the course of his employmnt and therefor his dependents were not permitted to collect benenfit.
The NC Supreme Court adopted the dissentof the Court of Appeals:
"I respectfully dissent from the majority's decision affirming the portion of the Commission's Opinion and Award concluding Dodson's injury and death arose out of and in the course of his employment and awarding death benefits to plaintiff. Although I concur with the majority's conclusion that Dubose's argument under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-12(3) (2001) must fail, I do so on different grounds. The facts in this case are not in dispute; however, I recite additional facts to clarify and support my decision on this matter.
On 27 September 1999, John Dodson (“Dodson”) was transporting a load of steel to Virginia for his employer, defendant Dubose Steel, Inc. (“Dubose”). While Dodson was driving in the right lane of a divided highway having two lanes of traffic in each direction, Troy Campbell (“Campbell”) was driving in the same direction in the left lane. The two drivers encountered a disabled recreational vehicle partially blocking the right lane and causing the two lanes of traffic to merge left into a single lane. Dodson moved his truck into the left lane and forced Campbell into a left-turn lane asCampbell blew his horn several times. Dodson returned to the right lane after passing the disabled vehicle.
Campbell pulled up beside Dodson's truck, looked over at him, motioned back and said “you almost hit me back there.” Campbell made gestures toward Dodson, who responded by shaking his finger at Campbell. Campbell then moved forward in the left lane to where the vehicles ahead of him were stopped at the traffic signal. While the two vehicles were stopped for the traffic signal, Dodson got out of his truck and walked around the front of Campbell's vehicle, striking the hood with his fist and signaling Campbell to get out of his vehicle. Campbell and other witnesses were under the impression that Dodson was angry as he approached Campbell's vehicle.
When Dodson reached the left front headlight of Campbell's vehicle, Campbell turned the wheels to the left and accelerated in an attempt to move into the left-turn lane. Campbell's vehicle struck Dodson, causing him to fall and to suffer significant head injuries which ultimately resulted in his death on 4 October 1999.
On 25 October 1999, defendant American Manufacturers Mutual Insurance (“American Mutual”) denied the workers' compensation claim filed by plaintiff, finding that “there was no causal relationship of the employee's injuries to his employment.” Plaintiff requested a hearing before the North Carolina Industrial Commission regarding the denial of the workers' compensation claim to determine whether Dodson was acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of his injury.
On 30 November 2000, the Deputy Commissioner filed an Opinionand Award concluding that Dodson's death arose out of and in the course of his employment and ordering defendants to pay death benefits to plaintiff. Both Dubose and American Mutual appealed the Deputy Commissioner's Opinion and Award.
On 18 January 2002, the Full Commission (“Commission”) affirmed the Deputy Commissioner's Opinion and Award. The Commission found facts as detailed above and made additional findings of fact and conclusions of law as set out in the majority opinion. Dubose appealed the Commission's Opinion and Award. American Mutual did not participate in this appeal.
The issue presented in Dubose's appeal to this Court is whether the death of an employee who was engaged in an act of “road rage” at the time of his injury resulting in his death suffered an injury compensable under N.C. Gen. Stat. Chapter 97. In the event that there are procedural inadequacies in Dubose's appeal, I would exercise this Court's authority under N.C.R. App. P. 2 (2003) to suspend the rules and address Dubose's arguments in their entirety.
North Carloina Appeals Court (see dissent)
NC Supreme Court Reverses and Remands