Motzer v. Haberli, et al., No. SC 18649 (Conn. 04/26/11).
The Connecticut Supreme Court held that workers' compensation held the exclusive remedy for an apprentice.
What it means: In Connecticut, in order to overcome the exclusive remedy bar, a worker must demonstrate that his employer believed its conduct was substantially certain to cause the worker harm. An employer's failure to comply with safety regulations or train workers is insufficient to meet the standard.
Summary: An apprentice electrician was working on installing electrical wiring through the ground floor of an apartment complex. The apprentice, who was in the basement, looked in a hole a coworker drilled from the first floor and noticed several woodchips in the hole. The apprentice put his fingers in the hole to clean the debris and search for the wire his coworker would feed into the hole. The apprentice's finger was amputated at the tip when his finger was struck by a drill bit. He received workers' compensation benefits and sued his employer. The Connecticut Supreme Court held that workers' compensation held the exclusive remedy for the apprentice.
The court said the trial court did not abuse its discretion in not allowing an expert witness to testify as to whether the employer's violation of safety requirements caused the injury because the witness could only say that chances were that an accident was bound to happen.
The apprentice argued that the employer violated apprenticeship standards, failed to register him as an apprentice, and failed to train him on the use of power tools. The court explained that an exception to the exclusive remedy applies when a worker demonstrates that his employer believed its conduct was substantially certain to cause the worker harm. The exception did not apply in this case because the employer's failure to comply with safety regulations or train workers properly was insufficient to show the employer knew the worker's injury was substantially certain to occur.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 27, 2011
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