Thursday, May 31, 2018
The Michigan Court of Appeals recently upheld the high standard necessary to overcome the workers' compensation bar to suing an employer in tort. As in other jurisdictions, Michigan makes it difficult for an injured employee to sue his or her employer in tort. A common exception is for intentional torts. Michigan requires the employee demonstrate he or she was injured "as the result of a deliberate act of the employer and the employer specifically intended the injury." In a decision announced last month, Shumaker v. Meritt Tool & Dye, an employee was working with a large press used to cut steel. The employee lost three fingers when the machine unexpectedly double-cycled. The employer had received safety citations a few years prior relevant to the press:
Ultimately, the Court of Appeals held that (1) despite the employer having actual knowledge that the machine could double-cycle, the plaintiff failed to show there was a genuine issue of material fact about whether an injury was "certain to occur" as is required by MCL 418.131; and (2) even if the plaintiff had established that the defendant had actual knowledge that the injury was certain to occur, the plaintiff showed no evidence that the employer "willfully disregarded" such knowledge.
Lexology has the story.