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Employer Immunity

In Crew v. Advics Manufacturing Ohio, Inc., 2020-Ohio-328, 12th Dist., Case No. 18CV090620 (February 3, 2020), the claimant was a temporary employee, assigned to work for a company called Advics Manufacturing Ohio, Inc. (AMO), a self-insured employer.  Accurate Personnel LLC supplied temporary employees to AMO pursuant to an agreement, which set forth the terms of the relationship between AMO and Accurate.  Under the agreement, AMO provided training, ensured a safe work environment, and was responsible for day to day supervision of the temporary associates.  Accurate recruited the temporary associates, provided drug screens and background checks, payroll services, and assumed responsibility for workers’ compensation claims.

 

On the claimant’s first day of work, the claimant sustained a serious and traumatic injury to his left leg.  The claimant filed for and received workers’ compensation benefits.  One year after the date of the injury, the claimant filed a negligence action against AMO and the Bureau, which had a right of subrogation under R.C. 4123.931.  After conducting discovery, which included depositions of senior management of AMO, AMO filed a motion for summary judgment on the ground that it had immunity from the lawsuit under R.C. 4123.74.  The claimant argued summary judgment should not be granted because there was a question of fact whether the “loaned servant” doctrine applied, and also, AMO did not pay premiums to the workers’ compensation fund.  The trial court granted AMO summary judgment, finding AMO controlled and directed the claimant’s work activities, and therefore was entitled to immunity under R.C. 4123.35 and R.C. 4123.74.  The claimant appealed to the court of appeals.

 

The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment.  First, the court of appeals analyzed the “loaned servant” doctrine, which focuses on the question of control.  The court reasoned that under the terms of the agreement between AMO and Accurate, there was no question that AMO controlled the claimant’s work activities.  The court of appeals also relied on deposition testimony establishing AMO trained, directed, and controlled the claimant’s work activities.  Next, the court addressed whether AMO is entitled to immunity as a self-insured employer since AMO does not pay premiums to the Bureau.  The court of appeals noted that the 8th District recently addressed the same issue, finding that self-insured employers were entitled to immunity when they could show compliance with the workers’ compensation statutes by obtaining certification from the Commission or by showing the injured worker received workers’ compensation benefits.  The claimant admitted he received workers’ compensation benefits in connection with his injury.  In addition, while Accurate provided the workers’ compensation coverage for temporary associates, the court of appeals reasoned both a temporary agency and the client employer are entitled to immunity under the law.

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