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Workers' Compensation

Federal: Plaintiffs’ Tort Action Against Employer Fails Where Injury Was Shown to Be “Substantially Certain,” But Washington State Law Required a Showing of Actual Certainty







Construing Washington state law, a federal district court has dismissed a civil action filed by an employee and his spouse against an employer that alleged the employer had actual knowledge that prolonged exposure to alumina caused illness to the lungs and heart based on the employer’s international research and employee testing case studies, and reported illnesses. Plaintiffs alleged that the employer was also aware that prolonged exposure to heat stress would damage the heart. The court indicated that while the plaintiffs had alleged facts suggesting there may have been substantial certainty that injury would occur to the plaintiff employee, plaintiffs had failed to allege facts supporting a finding that injury was certain, as required under Wash. Rev. Code § 51.24.020. The court added that under Washington law, the injury must be certain; substantial certainty was insufficient.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

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

See Hornsby v. Alcoa, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101986 (E.D. Wash., Aug. 4, 2015) [2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101986 (E.D. Wash., Aug. 4, 2015)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 103.04 [103.04]

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









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