Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Court of Appeals Applies Up-the-Ladder Immunity from Liability Under Worker's Compensation Law

Court of Appeals Applied Up-the-Ladder Immunity from Liability
Under Worker’s Compensation Law


   In a recent decision, the Kentucky Court of Appeals determined that a particular company was a subcontractor of another and that, consequent to that relationship, the contractor had a put the ladder immunity from a claim of a subcontractors employee for an on-the-job injury. Ervin Cable Construction, LLC v. Lay, No. 2014-CA-001047-MR (Ky App. April 3, 2015).

      Lay was an employee of Advanced Cable.  Employees of that company and of Ervin Cable were one morning gassing and loading trucks in preparation for the workday.  Lay was struck by a truck which reversed; it was then being driven by an employee of Erwin Cable.

      Lay pursued and was awarded Worker's Compensation benefits against his employer, Advanced Cable.  He then brought a separate action against Ervin Cable seeking additional damages.   Ervin sought dismissal of that action at the trial court based upon its immunity from liability consequent to the exclusivity of the Worker's Compensation law system and up-the-ladder immunity.  When summary judgment was denied by the trial court, this appeal to the Court of Appeals was taken.

      After noting that the denial of a motion for summary judgment on the basis of Worker's Compensation immunity is an exception to the rule that, generally, the denial of a motion for summary judgment is interlocutory and cannot be appealed, the court turned its attention to the question of whether up-the-ladder  immunity here applied.

      Notwithstanding Lay's assertion that the relationship between his employer and Ervin Cable was not that of a subcontractor/contractor, and is well disposing of Lay’s assertion that somehow his injury was not work-related, the court determined that in fact a contractor/subcontractor relationship existed  even in light of the apparent lack of a written agreement to that effect.   For that reason, Ervin Cable was entitled to up-the-ladder immunity from Lay’s tort claim, and he was held to his workers compensation benefits as his exclusive remedy.

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