Whitfield v. Bonanno Real Estate Group, No. A-2830-09T1 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 05/12/11).
Ruling: The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division held that a worker could sue a general partnership even though she received workers' compensation benefits from her employer, a partner in the partnership.
What it means: In New Jersey, a worker can sue a general partnership after receiving workers' compensation benefits from her employer, a partner in the partnership.
Summary: A worker for an entertainment company was injured when she slipped on black ice in the parking lot. She received workers' compensation benefits from the company. She also sued a general partnership, of which the entertainment company was a partner. The partnership asserted that it was immune from suit. In a case of first impression, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division held that the worker could sue the partnership.
The partnership asserted that partners share each others' and the partnership's liabilities and immunities from suit. The court explained that the state law states that where a third party is liable to a worker for an injury, the existence of a right of compensation from the employer does not bar the worker's suit. Third parties include partnerships. The court said that restricting the immunity from suit to the entertainment company was consistent with the law and its policy goals.
The court considered similar cases from other states, which reached different results. Some cases recognized that under some circumstances, a partnership and its partners are considered one entity. In this case, the partnership did not argue that it was essentially the same entity as the entertainment company. The court also said that the case did not involve the "dual capacity" doctrine.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
July 14, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications