Case name: Kleshick, et al. v. Home Depot USA Inc., et al., No. 02-3120 (RMB/AMD) (D.N.J. 10/09/09).
The U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey concluded that questions regarding a worker's status and whether he was immune from suit under the Workers' Compensation Act should be determined by a jury. The court denied the worker's motion for summary judgment on the third-party claims filed against him by the defendants.
What it means:
In New Jersey, if an employee's injury is deemed compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act, a person will not be liable for the injury if the person is in the same employ.
The employee of an irrigation company was injured while she was using a grinder. She and her husband, who had assisted in the installation, sued the grinder manufacturer and Home Depot. The manufacturer and Home Depot counterclaimed that her husband was also responsible for her injuries because he installed the cutting blade on the grinder.
The husband argued he was entitled to immunity under New Jersey's Workers' Compensation Act because he was an "employee" of the irrigation company and a "co-
employee" of his wife, who had received workers' compensation benefits.
The District Court found there were undecided issues concerning whether the husband was acting in his capacity as an employee or as a husband. It explained there were questions concerning whether an employer-employee relationship existed and noted the husband did not receive payment for his services. It held these issues could not be resolved on the husband's summary judgment motion. It denied the motion and indicated the issues should be resolved by a jury.
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November 2, 2009
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