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To satisfy the "substantial certainty" standard of intentional conduct, mere knowledge and appreciation of a risk, short of substantial certainty, is not the equivalent of intent. The defendant who acts in the belief or consciousness that he is causing an appreciable risk of harm to another may be negligent, and if the risk is great his conduct may be characterized as reckless or wanton, but it is not classified as an intentional wrong. Thus, the employer must have acted, or have failed to act, with the knowledge that injury was substantially certain, not merely likely, to occur. The employer must have knowledge of more than "foreseeable risk," more than "high probability," and more than "substantial likelihood." Nothing short of the employer's knowledge of the "substantial certainty" of injury will remove the injured worker's claim from the exclusive remedy provision of the Oklahoma's Workers' Compensation Act, Okla. Stat. tit. 85, §§ 1-211 (2001), thus allowing the worker to proceed in district court. Mere allegations of intentional conduct will not circumvent the Act. The worker must allege facts which plausibly demonstrate that the employer's conduct was intentional under the substantial certainty standard. In terms of intentional tort then, the use of the word ''intent'' in allegations is not a talisman that can change the allegations into colorable claims.
The decedent was electrocuted while replacing emergency lights at the corporation's Oklahoma plant; the corporation hired the decedent's employer as an independent contractor. The parties disagreed as to (1) whether defendants' conduct was intentional conduct sufficient to maintain an action in tort, despite the workers' compensation exclusivity provided by Okla. Stat. tit. 85, § 12; and (2) whether the corporation was a statutory employer of the employer's workers, including whether the work decedent performed for the corporation was non-specialized and was necessary and integral to the corporation's operations. In its other plants in North America, the corporation performed maintenance on its equipment with its own employees.
Is the standard of intent necessary for an employee's tort claim against an employer to fall outside the protection of the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Act the "substantial certainty" test?
The supreme court held that only the employer's knowledge of the "substantial certainty" of injury would remove the injured worker's claim from the exclusive remedy provision; mere allegations of intentional conduct would not suffice. And in determining statutory employer status, under the third tier of the Bradley test, a court had to consider only those facilities located within Oklahoma.