Officer deemed not to be “performing a duty” at time of accident

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The Fort Wayne Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Inc. (“FWPBA”) and Michaeline Jones (collectively, “Appellants”) appeal from the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Fort Wayne (“City”). Appellants raise two issues on appeal.

I. Whether Fort Wayne Police Officer Michaeline Jones was injured “while performing her duty” as a police officer pursuant to Indiana Code section 36-8-4-5 when she was injured as a result of an accident that occurred while she was driving home, after the conclusion of her shift as a police detective, in her unmarked home fleet police vehicle.

II. Whether the parties’ Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”), which provides that employees who suffer an injury while performing an assigned duty or who contract an illness caused by the performance of this duty shall be entitled to any and all benefits provided by Indiana Code section 36-8-4-5, creates any rights or obligations greater than those provided by the statute itself.

Conclusion (slip op. at 12): Concluding that Officer Jones was not “performing a duty” within the meaning of Indiana Code section 36-8-4-5 at the time of her accident and that the language of the CBA is clear and unambiguous and creates no contractual obligations on behalf of the City apart from those created by section 36-8-4-5, we affirm the trial court’s award of summary judgment in favor of the City.

Key Analysis (slip op. at 11, 12): Officer Jones’s compliance with the minimal requirements that her police radio be turned on and that she be armed was insufficient to establish that she was injured “while performing a duty” for the purposes of Indiana Code section 36-8-4-5 . . . Article 52 of the parties’ CBA provides in pertinent part that “Employees who suffer an injury while performing [an] assigned duty or who contract an illness caused by the performance of [a] duty shall be entitled to any and all benefits provided by I.C. 36-8-4-5.” Nothing in the plain language of the CBA creates any rights beyond those provided by Indiana Code.

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Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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