JAMES EIDE, Deceased Employee, by LANAE EIDE, Petitioner/Appellant, v. AWARD CONSTR. CO., INC., and WEST BEND MUTUAL INS. CO., Employer-Insurer.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COURT OF APPEALS
OCTOBER 16, 2012
ARISING OUT OF & IN THE COURSE OF - TRAVELING EMPLOYEE. Where a traveling employee was “in the course of” his employment at the time of his heart attack, but the only causation evidence in the record indicated that the employee’s work activity was not a substantial contributing cause of his death, substantial evidence supports the compensation judge’s findings that the employee’s heart attack was not causally related to the employee’s work activity and did not “arise out of” his employment.
Determined by: Milun, C.J., Johnson, J., and Hall, J.
Compensation Judge: Rolf G. Hagen
Attorneys: Kenneth N. Potts, Minnetonka, MN, for theAppellant. Thomas L. Cummings, Jardine, Logan, and O’Brien, Lake Elmo, MN, for the Respondents.
PATRICIA J. MILUN, Chief Judge
The petitioner appeals the compensation judge’s denial of her claim for dependency benefits on the basis that the employee’s fatal heart attack did not arise out of and in the course of his employment. We affirm.
In 2009, James Eide, the employee, was working as a carpenter for Award Construction Company, the employer, which was insured for workers’ compensation liability by West Bend Mutual Insurance Company. The employee’s job was to travel to Target Store locations and convert photography stands into storage rooms. On March 27, 2009, the employee and a co-worker completed a project at a Target Store in Yuba City, California. The next morning they traveled to Eureka, California, for another project. They had dinner and watched a hockey game, and the employee went to his hotel room. On March 29, 2009, the employee was found dead in his hotel room as a result of a heart attack. He was 45 years old.
An autopsy was performed by Dr. Neil Kushner on April 1, 2009. The cause of death was listed as acute coronary thrombosis of the right coronary artery. The certificate of death, issued April 4, 2009, by Dr. Charles Comer, deputy coroner, listed the cause of death as acute coronary thrombus.
The employee was survived by his wife, Lanae Eide, the petitioner, and two minor children. On August 27, 2010, the petitioner filed a claim petition for dependency benefits. The employer and insurer objected. Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist, reviewed the employee’s medical records, autopsy report, and death certificate at the employer and insurer’s request. In a report dated August 19, 2011, Dr. Thomas opined that the cause of the employee’s death was acute coronary thrombus due to atherosclerotic heart disease, and that the employee’s work activity was not a substantial contributing cause of the employee’s death. She also noted that the employee had many of the known risk factors for heart disease, including cigarette smoking, elevated cholesterol, obesity, and family history.
A hearing was held on February 3, 2012. The parties stipulated that the employee died from a coronary thrombus/heart attack. The petitioner admitted that there was no medical evidence that the employee’s work activity was a substantial contributing factor to his heart attack, but argued that the employee was a traveling employee and was under continuous workers’ compensation coverage while he was traveling. The compensation judge found that the employee was a traveling employee on the day he died, but that there was no causal connection between the coronary thrombus/heart attack and the employee’s work activity. The judge concluded that the employee’s death did not arise out of and in the course of his employment and denied the petitioner’s claim for dependency benefits. The petitioner appeals.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals must determine whether the findings of fact and order are clearly erroneous and unsupported by substantial evidence in view of the entire record as submitted. Substantial evidence supports the findings if, in the context of the entire record, they are supported by evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate. Fact findings are clearly erroneous if the reviewing court, looking at the entire evidence, is left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed. Findings of fact should not be disturbed, even though the reviewing court might disagree with them, “unless they are clearly erroneous in the sense that they are manifestly contrary to the weight of the evidence or not reasonably supported by the evidence as a whole.”
In order to establish entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits, the employee must prove that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment. The phrase “arising out of” requires evidence of a causal connection between the injury and the employment, while the phrase “in the course of employment” refers to the time, place, and circumstances of the injury. The requisite causal connection “exists if the employment, by reason of its nature, obligations or incidents may reasonably be found to be the source of the injury-producing hazard.” The two requirements are elements of a single test of work- connection. Whether an injury arose out of and in the course of employment is generally a question of fact for the compensation judge, and the burden of proof is on the employee.
A compensable “personal injury” is an injury sustained while the employee is “engaged in, on, or about the premises where the employee’s services require the employee’s presence as a part of that service at the time of the injury and during the hours of that service.” Generally, an employee’s services are performed on the employer’s premises. When a substantial part of the employee’s services are required away from the employer’s premises, the employee is considered a traveling employee who carries the employer’s premises with him or her while engaged in the employer’s business. As a result, the general rule is that traveling employees are under continuous workers’ compensation coverage while engaged in reasonable activities from the time they leave home until they return.
As the compensation judge found, the employee in this case is a traveling employee. The employee’s heart attack occurred “in the course of” his employment since he was considered on the employer’s premises as a traveling employee from the time he left home until he returned. The judge also found, however, that the employee’s heart attack did not “arise out of” his employment since it was not causally connected to his work activity or other reasonable activities. The petitioner seeks to expand coverage for traveling employees for all injuries or conditions which occur while they are traveling, regardless of the cause of the injury or condition. We decline to do so.
While a traveling employee is covered for risks inherent in reasonable activities outside of regular employment activities, for an injury to arise out of employment, there must be a causal connection between the employment and the injury. This requires a showing of an increased risk or hazard with its origin or source in the employment and beyond the exposure of the general public. In this case, there was no increased risk inherent in the employee’s activities while working or while he was off work at dinner or at the hotel which caused or contributed to the employee’s heart attack. In addition, the employee’s activities must be a substantial contributing factor in causing or precipitating the employee’s heart attack. There is no evidence in the record that the employee’s heart attack was causally related to his work activity or any other reasonable activities while he was not working during the trip. The only causation evidence in the record was Dr. Thomas’ report which stated that the employee had many of the known personal risk factors for heart disease, including cigarette smoking, elevated cholesterol, obesity, and family history, and that the employee’s work activity was not a substantial contributing cause of the employee’s death. The compensation judge could reasonably conclude that the employee’s heart attack was from natural causes as a result of risks personal to him, and therefore was not compensable.
Substantial evidence supports the compensation judge’s findings that the employee’s heart attack was not causally related to the employee’s work activity and did not arise out of his employment. We therefore affirm the compensation judge’s denial of the petitioner’s claim for dependency benefits.
 Minn. Stat. § 176.421, subd. 1.
 Hengemuhle v. Long Prairie Jaycees, 358 N.W.2d 54, 59, 37 W.C.D. 235, 239 (Minn. 1984).
 Northern States Power Co. v. Lyon Food Prods., Inc., 304 Minn. 196, 201, 229 N.W.2d 521, 524 (1975).
 Nelson v. City of St. Paul, 249 Minn. 53, 81 N.W.2d 272, 19 W.C.D. 120 (1957); Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 16; Minn. Stat. § 176.021, subd. 1 (an employer “is liable to pay compensation in every case of personal injury or death of an employee arising out of and in the course of employment").
 Foley v. Honeywell, Inc., 488 N.W.2d 268, 271-72 (Minn. 1992) (citing Gibberd v. Control Data Corp., 424 N.W.2d 776, 780, 40 W.C.D. 1040, 1047 (Minn. 1988)); see also Lange v. Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro. Airport Comm’n, 257 Minn. 54, 99 N.W.2d 915, 21 W.C.D. 61 (1959).
 Nelson, 249 Minn. at 55, 81 N.W.2d at 275, 19 W.C.D. at 123.
 Bohlin v. St. Louis County/Nopeming Nursing Home, 61 W.C.D. 69, 79 (W.C.C.A. 2000) (citing United Fire & Casualty Co. v. Maw, 510 N.W.2d 241 (Minn. Ct. App. 1994)), summarily aff’d (Minn. Jan. 16, 2001).
 Rondeau v. Metropolitan Council, 58 W.C.D. 338, 342 (W.C.C.A. 1998) (citing Franze v. National Delivery Serv., 49 W.C.D. 148 (W.C.C.A. 1993), summarily aff’d (Minn. Aug. 25, 1993)).
 Minn. Stat. § 176.021, subd. 1.
 Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 16.
 Cavilla v. Northern States Power Co., 213 Minn. 331, 6 N.W.2d 812, 12 W.C.D. 429 (1942).
 Voight v. Rettinger Transp., Inc., 306 N.W.2d 133, 136, 33 W.C.D. 625, 631 (Minn. 1981) (the employee, a school bus driver who was injured in the parking lot of a bar while on a charter bus assignment that required travel of over 200 miles and an overnight stay, was a traveling employee covered by workers’ compensation on a portal to portal basis).
 Finding 4 (unappealed).
 Epp v. Midwestern Machinery Co., 296 Minn. 231, 234, 208 N.W.2d 87, 89, 26 W.C.D. 703, 706 (1973).
 Gibberd v. Control Data Corp., 424 N.W.2d 776, 780, 40 W.C.D. 1040, 1047 (Minn. 1988).
 Bohlin, 61 W.C.D. at 72 (citing Kirchner v. County of Anoka, 339 N.W.2d 908, 911, 36 W.C.D. 335, 338 (Minn. 1983); Breimhorst v. Beckman, 227 Minn. 409, 35 N.W.2d 719, 15 W.C.D. 395 (1949)).
 See Stibbs v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 277 Minn. 248, 252, 152 N.W.2d 318, 321, 24 W.C.D. 233, 239 (1967).
 See Bohlin, 61 W.C.D. at 73-74 n.3 (citing 1 A. Larson and L.K. Larson, Workers’ Compensation Law, § 4.00 (1999)).