Workers' Compensation

Arkansas: High Court Pushes Exclusive Remedy Issue Back to Commission







Labeling an estate’s constitutional challenge to the state’s exclusive remedy defense as forum shopping, the Supreme Court of Arkansas entered an order prohibiting a state circuit court from continuing to exercise jurisdiction in a civil action filed by the estate of an employee against the employer. The employee, who had been a pilot for the employer, died in a work-related airplane crash and his estate filed suit against the employer. When the employer raised the exclusive remedy defense, the estate filed a reply challenging the constitutionality of the defense. The employer sought a writ of prohibition to block consideration of the issues by the trial court. The high court agreed. When the question of exclusivity was raised, it was up to the Commission, not the trial court, to determine that issue. The Court acknowledged that the Commission did not have the authority to pass on a constitutional question, but the issue nevertheless should first be raised at the ALJ or Commission level. The constitutional issue could not be isolated. The estate had not taken into consideration that the tort claim—the basis for the estate’s entire complaint—was one that fell within the exclusive province of the Commission.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

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

See Central Flying Serv., Inc. v. Pulaski County Cir. Court, 2015 Ark. 49, 2015 Ark. LEXIS 65 (Feb. 19, 2015) [2015 Ark. 49, 2015 Ark. LEXIS 65 (Feb. 19, 2015)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 103.05 [103.05]

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









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