In an important published decision argued by Marilyn H. Nelson, a California appellate court has ruled that an employer is legally responsible for an employee’s auto accident when the worker was returning home from an airport after an out-of-town meeting.

A Business Insurance report said a lower court found the employer was successful in getting a ruling that it was not liable for accidents occurring during an employee commute. However, the appellate court overturned, holding that attending an out-of-town business conference may be considered a “special errand” for the employer.

“In addition, when an employee intends to drive home from the errand, the errand is not concluded simply because the employee drives his regular commute route, but rather, the errand is concluded when the employee returns home or deviates from the errand for personal reasons,” the appellate court said.

The appellate court ordered the trial court to enter a new judgment.

According to Business Insurance, Marc Brandon, a Warner Brothers Entertainment vice president got into a car accident in 2006 involving several pedestrians while driving home from the airport. One of the pedestrians died, and the others who were injured sued over the incident, naming as a defendant Warner Brothers as the employer.

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