A driver sued his employer in tort, alleging that because the employer negligently destroyed and failed to preserve key parts of a truck the driver was operating at the time of a work-related vehicular accident, the driver was prejudiced in his tort suit against third parties who manufactured the truck and its components. In relevant part, the driver alleged that after the accident the employer failed to preserve the seat belts, the brakes, “black boxes,” and other items of the truck he had been driving.
The driver also alleged that at the time of the actions taken by the employer, the driver was severely injured and unable to speak due to the accident. The employer contended that the driver’s claims against it were barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (Act) [77 Pa. Stat. Ann. ÃŸ 481(a)] and the trial court agreed, dismissing the case against the employee.
In Minto v. J.B. Hunt Transp., Inc., 2009 PA Super 73, 2009 Pa. Super. LEXIS 88 (April 17, 2009), the appellate court reversed the trial court, observing that in as much as the former employee had not sought damages from the employer for physical injuries arising out of and in the course of his employment, but rather had alleged economic damage as a result of the actions of the employer in destroying evidence that could have considerably damaged his product liability case against third parties, the tort claim against the employer was not barred by exclusivity. See generally: Larson’s Workers Compensation Law § 100.03
Author: Tom Robinson, J.D. is the primary upkeep writer for Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis) and Larson’s Workers’ Compensation, Desk Edition (LexisNexis). He is a contributing writer for California Compensation Cases (LexisNexis) and Benefits Review Board – Longshore Reporter(LexisNexis), and is a contributing author to New York Workers’ Compensation Handbook(LexisNexis). Attorney Robinson is an authority in the area of workers’ compensation and we are happy to have him as a Guest Contributor to Workers’ Comp Kit Blog. Tom can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. http://law.lexisnexis.com/practiceareas/Workers-Compensation Click on these links to try it for yourself. WC Calculator www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/calculator.php TD Calculator www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php WC 101 www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/workers_comp.php Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws are different. Consult with your corporate legal counsel before implementing any cost containment programs. ©2008 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@WorkersCompKit.com