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ISSAQUAH LAW GROUP

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PHILOSOPHY: Formed in 2014, Issaquah Law Group is a law firm with one focus: providing businesses and insurers with high quality legal representation with the responsiveness of a smaller firm. ILG was founded on the principle that strong client relationships are the key to successful legal representation and strong relationships are built upon clear and consistent communication. 

LITIGATION: We work closely with our clients to fully and accurately understand their goals, work collaboratively to formulate specific legal strategies, and execute the agreed plan of action utilizing methods most likely to result in the efficient and effective resolution of the matter. ILG attorneys have a broad base of litigation experience to draw on in all Federal and State courts from on-the-ground investigations to Supreme Court appeals in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death, product liability, commercial general liability, labor & employment, construction litigation, and catastrophic losses due to fire and explosion.

BUSINESS LAW: Rarely is the path from point A to point B a straight line, so our role in a business law practice is to find alternatives, devise workable strategies, and keep your business ideas, goals and objectives moving toward realization. ILG’s business attorneys help clients achieve their goals with respect to business formation, intellectual property, labor and employment, CAN-SPAM, copyright and trademark

COMMUNITY: In addition, the Lawyers at Issaquah Law Group remain active in the legal and civic community. A core commitment of our Issaquah Attorneys is community service. Our attorneys' civic involvement includes the King County Civil Rights Commission; the City of Issaquah Planning Policy Commission; the Northwest Screenwriters Guild, service as a pro tem judge. We live and work in the Pacific Northwest, and we aim to make it a better place.

In addition, through The Amateur Law Professor Blog and LinkedIn postings, we share pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Supreme Court, as well as the pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Courts of Appeal so that our clients can be as update to date on cutting legal issues as we are.

Division I: Commuting Fuel Not Covered by L&I

Yuchasz v. DLI

Yuchasz drove a company vehicle, which he drove from his home to his jobs and then back home. He was injured on the job. When he returned to work, it was light duty, and he didn’t need the vehicle for his light duty work. However, where the company paid the gas on the company vehicle, they didn’t pay the gas for his personal vehicle and the commute. He tried to claim this plaid into his wage loss claim, which includes benefits as part of the job, including “board, housing, fuel, or other consideration of like nature received from theemployer as part of the contract of hire,” per the statute. 

Now, at first glance, that would seem to fall into it, right? Wrong. That fuel mentioned above is of the type like housing fuel where you take a job and the employer pays for your housing fuel, or maybe your rent, or maybe they pay your electric bill. It refers to things that are made a part of your employment contract. Darn straight, if the company moved me to Siberia, you can rest assured they would be paying my heating bill or I’d be walking out the door. Lucky for me, now that I have my own firm, this is not a huge issue.

No, the Company never really paid for fuel for personal use, because Yuchasz was not allowed to use the vehicle for personal use. As we all know (well, those of us that went through the horror of the first year of law school), a commute is not a covered activity. The boss isn’t responsible for you until you clock in. The Court held the fuel for commuting was not covered, because fuel for commuting is not critical to a worker’s basic health and survival, which is what the fuel in the statute was referring to. Instead, it is a fringe benefit, akin to claiming you were due a pack of trail mix because the company keeps it around in the break room, but you didn’t get to go to the break room and missed out on trail mix. 

     We hold that under Cockle, the reasonable value of the employer-provided gasoline for use in the company van is a fringe benefit that is not critical to the basic health and survival of the worker at the time of injury. We reject the argument that excluding the reasonable value of employer-provided gasoline for use in the company van is contrary to the intent of the IIA to reduce the suffering and economic loss “arising from injuries and/or death occurring in the course of employment." RCW 51.12.010. As the Supreme Court concluded In Cockle, "we do not believe injury-caused deprivation of the reasonable value of fringe benefits that are not critical to protecting workers’ basic health and survival qualifies as the kind of 'suffering' that Title 51 was legislatively designed to remedy." Cockle, 142 Wn.2d at 82310 (citing RCW 51.12.010).

     We affirm summary judgment and the decision of the BIIA.

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