Workers' Compensation

United States: Tort Action Against Comp Insurer is Barred by Exclusive Remedy Defense

A federal district court granted a workers’ compensation insurance company’s motion to dismiss claims contained in a complaint filed against it alleging, inter alia, concealment fraud, negligent interference, and bad faith breach of contract. The court said that, generally speaking, the carrier had been sued for its role in the alleged mishandling of plaintiff’s workers’ compensation claim following a work-related motor vehicle accident. The accident itself had a bizarre fact pattern. Plaintiff, who was operating a loaded transport truck and trailer owned by defendant UPS, claimed defendant Montesdoeca was fighting with a male passenger in the back seat of her vehicle when she lost control, careened into the highway divider, and then rebounded from the divider, smashing into the front passenger side of plaintiff’s truck. Among her allegations, plaintiff contended UPS prepared, but did not file, the necessary workers’ compensation claim documents. The federal court noted that the right to recover worker's compensation benefits is the sole and exclusive remedy available to an injured employee against his or her employer or the employer's insurer. The district court acknowledged a narrow exception where the actor, by its alleged acts or motives, was no longer acting as an employer/insurer. Here, the court found the plaintiff’s allegations did not fall within that narrow exception.

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

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Doutherd v. Montesdeoca, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137583(E.D. Cal. Aug. 14, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 104.05.

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