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North Dakota: Widow’s Tort Action Fails Under State’s “Almost Impossibly Strict Standard” for Intentional Tort Allegations

July 08, 2016 (1 min read)

The Supreme Court of North Dakota held the trial court properly granted a former employer’s summary judgment dismissing a widow’s wrongful death action against it because the facts alleged did not provide a genuine issue of material fact to avoid the exclusive remedy provisions of the Workforce Safety and Insurance Act. The deceased worker died approximately one month after he fell from the top of a railcar he was loading and suffered serious injuries. The employer had no safety equipment in place to protect against falls, but intended to install a fall protection system. The widow’s suit claimed the employer intentionally exposed her husband to unsafe working conditions. Quoting Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the Court said the common-law liability of the employer could not be stretched to include accidental injuries caused by the gross, wanton, willful, deliberate, intentional, reckless, or culpable conduct. The Court added that as a result of the “almost impossibly strict standard” N.D, . Cent. Code § 65–01–01.1 placed upon employees seeking civil redress from their workplace injuries, even if the widow’s action was liberally construed, the employer established it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

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.

See Bartholomay v. Plains Grain & Agronomy, LLC, 2016 ND 138 (June 30, 2016)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 103.03.

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