NJ: Informal Arrangement Between Father-Son Physicians Means Joint Employment for Purposes of Plaintiff’s Tort Action Against Son

In an unpublished opinion, a New Jersey appellate court recently affirmed in pertinent part a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a physician-defendant in a civil action for personal injuries filed against the physician by a woman who cleaned the building that the defendant owned and within which the defendant practiced medicine with his father.  The defendant contended plaintiff’s civil action was barred by exclusivity.  The plaintiff countered that the defendant’s father employed her—and not the defendant—and that he was susceptible to suit.  Reviewing the findings of the trial court, the appellate court noted that the two physicians practiced together, but had no partnership agreement or any other formal document describing their work relationship, that the father had originally owned the building and had conveyed it to the son for nominal consideration, that the plaintiff’s W-2 forms listed only the father’s name as employer, but that plaintiff had always been paid from a checking account that listed both doctor’s names and had both their signatures.  The appellate court, quoting Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, held that given the circumstances, the plaintiff should be considered the joint employee of the two physicians. She could not, therefore, sue one of them in tort for her injuries.

Reported by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Chalmers v. Swartz, 2013 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2428 (Oct. 8, 2013) [2013 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2428 (Oct. 8, 2013)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 68.01 [68.01]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law

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