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Wisconsin: Comp Insurer Need Not Defend Employee Accused of Sexual Assault on Co-Employee

May 27, 2016 (1 min read)

An employer’s workers’ compensation insurer had no duty to defend an employee, Rydberg, who had been sued by af co-employee who claimed that Rydberg sexually groped her while both were at work on the employer’s premises. The Wisconsin appellate court indicated that the co-employee had essentially alleged an intentional tort had been committed upon her by Rydberg. The court added that, while the general rule was such that an employee who suffered a job-related injury had an exclusive remedy within the workers’ compensation system, an exception existed when it came to “an assault intended to cause bodily harm.” The co-employee here did not seek workers’ compensation benefits, but rather to recover in tort for Rydberg’s alleged battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Moreover, the insurer’s policy did not cover individual employees; it provided workers’ compensation coverage to the employer. Since (a) the action was not a workers’ compensation claim and (b) Rydberg was not an insured, the insurance company was not required to defend.

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 Rhyner v. Rydberg, 2016 Wisc. App. LEXIS 321 (May 25, 2016).

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, Larson § 111.03.

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









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