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The Appellate Division revisits Laidlow and the intentional wrong exception to the exclusive remedy provision of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act.

January 19, 2018
Soto v. ICO Polymers, Docket No. A-3858-14T4, 2017 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2551 (App. Div., decided Oct. 11, 2017)

Finding that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that his workplace accident met the intentional wrong standard to allow him to seek damages from his employer, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff appealed. In reversing and remanding the Superior Court’s ruling, the Appellate Division relied on the seminal case of Laidlow v. Hariton Machinery Co., 170 N.J. 602 (2002) and its progeny. In Laidlow, the court delineated a two-prong test to be utilized as an analytical guide for judges when considering and deciding summary judgment motions based on the workers’ compensation exclusivity provision. This test requires not only that the conduct of the employer be examined, but also the context of the event in question. The Appellate Division determined that the motion judge erred because he failed to give the plaintiff the benefit of all legitimate inferences that can be drawn from the evidence amassed by the parties. The Appellate Division concluded that the plaintiff submitted sufficient evidence from which a jury could infer that, at the time of the accident, the defendant was aware that conditions at the Asbury Park facility were exposing its employees to a high risk of serious injury or death.

 

Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2018

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