New Jersey Supreme Court Set to Address Employers’ Liability

What’s Hot in Workers’ Comp – Special NJ Alert

The New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal involving injuries caused by the negligence of a co-employee. In Pantano v. NY Shipping Association, the plaintiff, Philip Pantano, was working at a job site when a piece of industrial equipment fell from a forklift and landed on his foot, resulting in injuries that necessitated an amputation. The plaintiff alleged the accident was caused by the negligence of the forklift operator, Lawrence Giamella, and filed suit against Giamella’s employer, Marine Transport.

At trial, the court found that, at the time of the accident, Giamella had been a “special employee,” working for the plaintiff’s employer, CSNJ; therefore, Marine Transport had no liability. On appeal, the Appellate Division considered that Giamella may have been a “special employee” of CSNJ, making him a co-employee to Pantano and, thus, shielded from a civil suit from Pantano under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act. However, the Appellate Division found that this shield did not extend to Giamella’s regular employer, Marine Transport. Upon further analysis, the Appellate Division concluded that Marine Transport continued to exert enough regular control over Giamella’s job duties to be held liable for his negligence under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

 Marine Transport has appealed the matter to the New Jersey Supreme Court. On November 10, 2022, the court agreed to hear the appeal. We will monitor the appeal to determine whether any further decisions are issued with respect to workers’ compensation liability, shield from civil claims and co-employee liability. 



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