WORKERS COMP EXCLUSIVE REMEEDY AND SUBCONTRACTORS: JOHNSTON V. LABOR READY, INC. (COA 4/6/2007)

JOHNSTON V. LABOR READY, INC.
WORKERS COMPENSATION:  Immunity, exclusive remedy and subcontractors
2005-CA-001587
PUBLISHED: REVERSING AND REMANDING (KELLER)
DATE RENDERED: 4/6/2007

This was an appeal from Jefferson Circuit Court, where the Judge granted summary judgment against the plaintiff based on immunity from civil suit granted by the workers’ compensation statute. The lawsuit was by an employee of Midamerica Auto Auction, who was struck by a car driven by a temporary worker, contracted through Labor Ready.

The undisputed facts were that Midamerica was the contractor, and Labor Ready was the subcontractor. Therefore, any lawsuit brought by an employee of Labor Ready against Midamerica or its employees would be barred. However, this lawsuit was brought by an employee of the contractor against the subcontractor. Labor-Ready would never have any workers’ compensation liability to any Mid-America employee if Mid-America was uninsured, as a general contractor may be as against the employee of a subcontractor. The Circuit Judge expanded the “up-the-ladder” immunity provisions of the workers’ compensation law to “down-the-ladder” employees, and the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the lawsuit could proceed.

Digested by Peter Naake


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