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State v. DeSantis

Superior Court of Delaware

November 7, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE, Employer/Appellant,
v.
MARK DESANTIS, Employee/Appellee.

          Submitted: October 31, 2017

         Upon Appellee's Motion for Reargument DENIED

          Hon. Andrea L. Rocanelli, Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Appellee Mark DeSantis's motion for reargument. Upon consideration of the facts, arguments and legal authorities set forth by all parties; decisional precedent; and the record of this case, the Court finds as follows:

         1. By Opinion and Order dated October 17, 2017, this Court reversed and remanded a decision from the Industrial Accident Board ("Board") awarding compensation for injuries DeSantis sustained in an automobile accident while he was commuting home from work ("Board Decision"). The Court concluded that the Board committed legal error by relying on an exception to the "going and coming rule" to award compensation after finding that DeSantis was not paid for travel time or mileage for his commute between home and work. As a result, the Court remanded the matter to the Board so that it could apply the correct legal standard.

         2. DeSantis now seeks reargument, contending that the Court misapprehended the law and/or the facts in a way that would affect the outcome of the decision. Specifically, DeSantis argues that the Court failed to consider the State's overtime payment scheme and whether, pursuant to that scheme, DeSantis would have still been considered "on the clock" for some portion of his drive home.

         3. The standard of review for a motion for reconsideration is well established. A motion for reargument under Superior Court Civil Rule 59(e) permits the Court to reconsider "its findings of fact, conclusions of law, or judgment."[1] To prevail on a motion for reargument, the moving party must demonstrate that "the Court has overlooked a controlling precedent or legal principles, or the Court has misapprehended the law or facts such as would have changed the outcome of the underlying decision."[2] A motion for reconsideration is not an opportunity for a party to rehash arguments already decided by the Court or to present new arguments not previously raised.[3]

         4. The Court did not misapprehend the law in concluding that the Board committed legal error. Under Spellman v. Christiana Care Health Services, the Board is required to first consider whether the terms of the employment agreement contemplate that the employee's travel time is compensable.[4] If the terms of the employment agreement resolve the issue, the Board's inquiry ends.[5] The Board may only consider the "going and coming rule" and any exceptions thereto if the terms of the employment agreement do not address whether an employee's travel time is compensable.[6]

         5. Here, the Board purported to follow Spellman by considering the terms of DeSantis's employment agreement, including the fact that DeSantis was not paid for travel time or mileage during his commute. However, the Board then concluded that DeSantis's travel time was compensable by applying the "semi-fixed place of employment" exception to the "going and coming rule." Under Spellman, the Board's inquiry should have ended after its finding that DeSantis was not compensated during travel time. Therefore, the Board committed legal error by applying an exception to the "going and coming" rule to award compensation rather than ending its inquiry with the terms of the employment agreement.

         6. In addition, the Court did not misapprehend the facts in this case. DeSantis left the work site between 11:30 and 11:45 P.M. to drive home in his personal vehicle. The accident occurred at 12:03 A.M. Therefore, the Court correctly concluded that DeSantis was commuting home at the time of the accident.[7]

         7. The Court rejects DeSantis' argument that the terms of the employment agreement are "vague and ambiguous" and that the parties should be able to develop more facts about the employment agreement on remand. This is the first time that DeSantis has raised the argument that the terms of the employment agreement are "vague and ambiguous" and a motion for reargument is "not an opportunity for a party … to present new arguments not previously raised."[8]

         8. The Court did not misapprehend the law or the facts in its October 17, 2017 Opinion and Order. Because the Board Decision was the product of legal error, this Court was required to remand for the Board to apply the correct legal standard.[9]

         NOW, THEREFORE, this, Appellee's Motion for Reargument is hereby DENIED.

         IT ...


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