Defense of Negligence Claims Relating to Workers' Compensation as Exclusive Remedy

Negligence cases often take unexpected turns, and the ability to maintain a clear focus of the facts is often the determining factor in building a successful defense. When an elderly employee of our client, a consumer goods retailer, suffered injuries at the workplace, we defended them. The employee, who was not on duty at the time, entered the store to collect his paycheck and fell into a product display, suffering injuries in the process. The plaintiff later suffered an infection from the injuries and filed a claim against our client for negligence. We filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that that plaintiff’s negligence claim was barred because his exclusive remedy lied with Kentucky’s Workers’ Compensation Act. More specifically, we argued that an off duty employee’s act of picking up a paycheck is a work-related activity covered by Kentucky’s Workers’ Compensation Act. The court denied the initial motion for summary judgment, but we renewed our motion after discovering that plaintiff had signed a document at the hospital to release his records for a workers’ compensation matter. The court granted our renewed motion for summary judgment, and the negligence claim was dismissed. The decision was then appealed and, after extensive briefing, the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the summary judgment ruling.