Thursday, May 31, 2012

Court reviews whether an Employer was entitled to use Tennessee's worker's compensation law in order to recover subrogation benefits

JANICE LACROIX, et al., v. L.W. MATTESON, INC., et al. (Tenn. Ct. App. May 29, 2012)

Deceased, a resident of Iowa, an employee of plaintiff, delivered materials to the State of Tennessee, and while the materials were being unloaded sustained injuries which resulted in his death, which arose out of the course and scope of his employment.

His widow could claim benefits either under the Iowa worker's compensation laws or the State of Tennessee worker's compensation laws, which contain essentially similar provisions. The widow claimed benefits under the Iowa worker's compensation law, and the employer under both laws was entitled to seek subrogation recovery for benefits paid from the alleged third party tort feasors. The State of Iowa would not have jurisdiction over some of the alleged tort feasors, and the employer brought his subrogation action in the State of Tennessee under the Tennessee worker's compensation statutes.

Defendants moved for summary judgment and the Trial Court concluded that since the claimant elected to sue under the Iowa worker's compensation statutory scheme, that the employer could not rely on the Tennessee worker's compensation statutes to maintain its action in Tennessee, and dismissed plaintiffs' action. On appeal, we hold that the employer was entitled to employ the Tennessee worker's compensation statute in an effort to recover subrogation benefits against the third party tort feasors.

Opinion available at:
https://www.tba.org/sites/default/files/lacroixj_052912.pdf

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