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Workers' Compensation

United States: Awareness of Danger Does Not Equal Intent to Injure under TN Law

Applying Tennessee law and citing Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a divided decision, agreed that a Tennessee employer could not be liable for an intentional tort in connection with horrific injuries sustained by the plaintiff in a work-related incident involving a 200-ton Bliss press. The plaintiff had contended the employer was well aware of the dangers associated with the press; it had ordered replacement parts for an important safety mechanism known as a “light curtain.” The Sixth Circuit held that under Tennessee law such an awareness of danger still could not be translated into an intentional desire to harm the worker. One judge offered a spirited dissent, arguing that the line of Tennessee cases cited in the majority opinion were distinguishable. The dissenting judge further argued that the Sixth Circuit should have sought guidance from the Supreme Court of Tennessee as to whether the plaintiff’s claim was squarely foreclosed.

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 Henry v. CMBB, LLC, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1494 (Jan. 14, 2020)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 103.04.

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

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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