Friday, August 2, 2013

No civil suit against contractor after comp settlement

Can a worker pursue a civil suit against a contractor when he has settled the comp case against the subcontractor involving the same accident because of statutory requirement of strict construction?  No, according to the court of appeals in Shaw v Mega Industries, No.  75501 (WD Mo. App. July 30, 2013).

Shaw is the sole owner of RLS.  He was hired as a subcontractor by Mega Industries.  In 2009 he settled a case between RLS and himself for injuries one of his employees dropped a phone booth on him.   Claimant/owner settled against his company's work comp carrier and then sued the company that hired his own company to perform the work.   Claimant appeals the summary judgment against him when he filed a civil claim against Mega after settling the comp case. 

The claimant argued contrary to a Supreme Court decision from 1938 involving similar facts.  "A statutory employer was immune from common law actions even if the statutory employer faced no liability for workers' compensation benefits because the injured worker was insured by his immediate supervisor."  The exclusive provisions apply even when the Act did not require payment and that Mega was deemed an employer under the Act even though it pays no compensation.