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Huff v. Regional Transportation Program

Supreme Court of Maine

December 12, 2017

LARRY HUFF
v.
REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION PROGRAM et al.

          Argued: October 12, 2017

          James J. MacAdam, Esq., Nathan A. Jury, Esq., and Donald M. Murphy, Esq. (orally), MacAdam Jury, P.A., Freeport, for appellant Larry Huff

          Matthew W. Marett, Esq. (orally), Maine Employers' Mutual Insurance Company, Portland, for appellees Regional Transportation Program and Maine Employers' Mutual Insurance Company

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          JABAR, J.

         [¶1] Larry Huff appeals from a decision of the Workers' Compensation Board Appellate Division affirming the hearing officer's [Collier, HO)[1] decree denying Huff's petition for award. Huff contends that he was an employee of Regional Transportation Program ("RTP") and was therefore entitled to receive benefits for a work-related injury. We affirm the decision of the Appellate Division.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The following facts, found by the hearing officer and contained in the Workers' Compensation Board decree denying Huff's petition for award, are supported by the record. See Harlow v. Agway Inc., 327 A.2d 856, 858 (Me. 1974); 39-A M.R.S. §§ 318, 322(3) (2016).

         [¶3] RTP is a nonprofit agency that provides transportation services to disabled, elderly, and low-income clients throughout Cumberland County. RTP classifies its drivers into two categories: employee drivers and volunteer drivers. Employee drivers operate vehicles owned and insured by RTP. They are paid wages for their time, are not reimbursed for mileage driven, and belong to a union. They are guaranteed a certain number of hours each week and may not generally refuse assignments or days of work. In contrast, volunteer drivers own and insure the vehicles they drive. They are not paid wages but are reimbursed for mileage driven and they do not belong to a union. Volunteer drivers are allowed to refuse assignments or decline to work on any particular day.

         [¶4] Larry Huff began driving for RTP in November 2011, after hearing about the program from a friend. That month, he signed an RTP Volunteer Driver Memorandum of Understanding which provided in relevant part:

1. Volunteer agrees to assist in the accomplishment of the goals of RTP by being a volunteer driver
3. In return for the volunteer's assistance, RTP will reimburse to the volunteer the approved mileage rate(s) per service mile provided by the volunteer.
8. The parties specifically agree that the volunteer is not an employee of RTP, and that no employee/employer relationship is contemplated or implied by this MOU or in existence by reason of ...

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