Workers Compensation: OAKLEY V. CRAWFORD ELECTRIC, INC. (COA 10/6/2006)

WORKERS COMPENSATION:  Up the ladder tort immunity and exclusive remedy
DATE RENDERED:  10/6/2006

The Court of Appeals reversed the McCraken Circuit Court’s summary judgment dismissing  the plaintiff’s injury claim based on the exclusivity of worker’s compensation benefits, KRS 342.610.  The statute states that workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for injury as against the injured party’s employer and any “contractor” with the employer. The COA found that the defendant was hired by a construction management company, Whitaker Construction Management.  Whitaker consulted with the principal, Sunrise Hospitality, to build a hotel.  During the construction, the superintendent, Greg Beaver, injured the plaintiff while operating a forklift.  Beaver was hired by Whitaker, which was only a consultant to Sunrise contracted directly with Crawford Electric, the plaintiff’s employer, and therefore those entities enjoyed the immunity from civil liability in KRS 342.610 and the “up-the-ladder” immunity of the contractors.Whitaker and Beaver contracted only with Sunrise to advise the principal on bids, plans, and payment, so did not enjoy the immunity and could be sued in tort.

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