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Workers' Compensation

Federal: Court Forced to Choose Between Conflicting State Versions of Exclusive Remedy Rule

Noting that a federal court sitting in diversity must apply the choice-of-law rules of the state in which it sits—here that of Mississippi—a federal district court held that an injured employee of a subcontractor could not sue the general contractor on a construction project for alleged negligence. Plaintiff had argued that the law of New York, which generally allows an injured employee to sue the general contractor, even if the worker has received workers’ compensation benefits from his or her employer, should have been utilized since the relationship of the general contractor and plaintiff’s employer had been established by contract. The court declined, noting that the word “contract” did not appear anywhere in plaintiff’s complaint. The only thing arguing for the use of New York law, said the court, was plaintiff’s status as a New York resident. The contract between the general contractor and the subcontractor explicitly stated that it was to be construed as a Mississippi contract, and should be governed by Mississippi law. The construction project was a project for the Mississippi Department of Transportation; the accident occurred in Mississippi; plaintiff received medical treatment in Mississippi and some of his treating physicians were in Mississippi. Prior to removal, plaintiff filed his suit in Mississippi. Plaintiff’s claims fell within the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Act, which barred the civil action.

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 lexis.com.

See Taylor v. Rogers Group, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154840 (N.D., Miss. Oct. 30, 2014) [2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154840 (N.D., Miss. Oct. 30, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 144.01 [144.01]

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

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