Monte M. Thompson v. ATI Products, Inc.. IA workers compensation
Monte Thompson was employed by a labor broker which assigned its employees to work for its customers on a temporary basis. He was sent to a customer's location where he was seriously injured on the first day on the job. He sued the customer for negligence, and the customer argued that workers' compensation was the sole remedy. The district court of Sioux County agreed and granted summary judgment in favor of the employer. Thompson then appealed to the Iowa Court of Appeals.
The lower court had agreed with the defendant that an employee can have more than one employer for purposes of the workers' compensation law under the "borrowed servant" doctrine. But the appeals court noted that whether one is a borrowed employee hinges largely on the intent of the parties.
In this case, the employee pointed to his contract with the broker, and the broker's contract with the customer. Each contract specified unequivocally that the customer was not the employer. The employee's contract also stated that he was not an employee of the customer, and the employee specifically agreed that he had not workers' compensation claim against the customer.
Given these clear declarations that the customer was not the employer, the court of appeals held that the customer was not an employer for purposes of workers' compensation, and that it could be sued for negligence.
No. 14-1765 (Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 19, 2015).
Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.
Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).
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