VanWagoner v. Beverly Enterprises

In VanWagoner v. Beverly Enterprises, 334 Ark. 12, 970 S.W.2d 810 (1998), the Court resolved the question of whether the circuit court or the Workers' Compensation Commission has jurisdiction to determine whether the Act applies. In that case, appellant filed suit against appellee in circuit court, and appellee moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that jurisdiction resided exclusively in the Commission. Circuit court agreed and dismissed the complaint. The Court noted that previously it had adhered to the rule that circuit court and the Commission have concurrent jurisdiction to determine the applicability of workers' compensation laws to a given case, but now recognized that the better rule is to allow the Commission to decide whether an employee's injuries are covered by the Act. It held that the exclusive remedy of an employee on account of injury arising out of and in the course of her employment is a claim for compensation under the Act, and that the Commission has exclusive, original jurisdiction to determine the facts that establish jurisdiction, unless the facts are so one-sided that the issue is no longer one of fact but one of law, such as an intentional tort.