Workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy under Louisiana law for workplace injuries or work-related diseases or illnesses. When an employer knowingly subjects employees to harm, moreover, they may have an intentional tort claim against them. A case before the Louisiana First Circuit Appellate Court analyzed the elements required to bring a successful tort claim against an employer.
The employee in this case was injured when a forklift backed up and rolled over his foot. Another employee had been operating the forklift at the time, and his employer rented the forklift from Deep South Equipment Company. The employee brought a lawsuit against Deep South and the forklift’s manufacturer on the ground that his injuries were caused by their negligent acts. He alleged the forklift was not properly maintained, or it malfunctioned because the backup alarm was not working.
The employee contended that his employer intentionally and knowingly subjected him to a dangerous process or condition, knowing that the harm to him was a substantial certainty or possibility. His allegations consisted of multiple claims, including negligent repair of the forklift and wanton and reckless disregard of his safety, among other allegations.
The employer argued that the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act barred the claims, since the Act provides the exclusive remedy for employees injured during the course and scope of employment. The employer acknowledged there were intentional torts alleged, but it stated that the conclusory allegations did not rise to the level of an intentional act.
The trial court granted the employer’s exception, finding that the employee’s allegations did not rise to the level of an intentional tort. The judge dismissed the employer from the lawsuit. The plaintiff appealed.
Procedurally, the appellate court held that an exception of no cause of action is not the proper procedural vehicle to dismiss an intentional tort claim against a plaintiff’s employer. Here, the employee claimed that his employer knowingly and intentionally subjected him to a dangerous condition, knowing that the harm was a substantial certainty. Louisiana courts have held that a peremptory exception of no cause of action is not the appropriate manner to dismiss a plaintiff’s intentional tort claim against an employer. The court here held that the employee had stated a cause of action for an intentional tort against his employer.
In conclusion, the court reversed the judgment granting the employer’s exception and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.
At Lavis Law, workers hurt in the course and scope of their employment receive an understanding of their legal rights according to the Louisiana workers’ compensation law. Our law firm helps injured workers and their families pursue compensation for work-related injuries. Contact our office for a free consultation at 866-855-9151, or complete our online form.
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