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Workers' Compensation

United States: Employer Not Liable Under Dual Capacity Theory

An injured employee could not maintain a products liability action against his employer in spite of the fact that the employer, as the surviving entity in a merger with the company that designed and manufactured the allegedly defective product, had assumed all liabilities of the manufacturing company under North Dakota law, held a federal court sitting in North Dakota. Quoting extensively from Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 113.01, the court noted that in rare occasions suits against the employer could proceed under a “dual capacity” or “dual persona” theory, but that the theory had been heavily criticized in Larson and had been allowed by courts only when the employer occupied, in addition to its capacity as employer, a second capacity that conferred upon it obligations independent of those it had as an employer. There was no such secondary obligation here, indicated the court and summary judgment in favor of the employer was granted.

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 Scott v. Hydra-Walk, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158782 (D. N.D., Sept. 18, 2019)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 113.01.

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

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see