Miller, et al. v. Enders, No. 09-888 (Ark. 02/25/10).
Ruling: The Arkansas Supreme Court dismissed a personal injury lawsuit, holding that the Workers' Compensation Commission had exclusive jurisdiction to hear the case.
What it means: In Arkansas, the exclusive remedy for an employee injured in the course and scope of his employment is under the Workers' Compensation Act. The Workers' Compensation Commission must decide whether a person is immune as an employer under the WCA.
Summary: Two emergency medical services workers were injured when their helicopter lost altitude and crashed. They sued the pilot, who was a coworker, alleging he did not safely operate the helicopter. The pilot argued that he was immune from suit as an extension of his employer under the WCA and that their lawsuit was barred by the exclusivity provision. The injured workers argued the pilot was a third person who was not immune from suit. They also argued that the law extending an employer's immunity to an employee was unconstitutional.
The Arkansas Supreme Court noted that the Workers' Compensation Commission has exclusive, original jurisdiction to determine the issue of employee immunity. It pointed out that even though the workers raised a constitutional argument and the commission may not have the authority to declare laws unconstitutional, such constitutional issues should first be raised at the administrative judge or commission level because these issues often require exhaustive analysis.
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April 12, 2010
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