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High court addresses provision for 1st time

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The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the denial of summary judgment for an insurance company, finding the exclusion in the policy for injuries covered by workers’ compensation doesn’t apply.

The high court was asked for the first time to review a provision of the Worker’s Compensation Act. The provision states that anyone contracting for more than $1,000 of work may be liable to the same extent as the contractor for injuries under the Worker’s Compensation Act if the person hiring the contractor doesn’t verify that the contractor has workers’ compensation insurance liability.

Farmers Rick and Katrina Taylor hired Sherlock Contract Painting. One of Sherlock’s employees, Christopher Collis, was injured on the job. He discovered Sherlock didn’t have workers’ compensation benefits, which the Taylors didn’t verify before hiring Sherlock. Collis then sued the Taylors for benefits under Indiana Code Section 22-3-2-14(b).

The Taylors were insured with Everett Cash Mutual Insurance Co. and had a farm personal liability policy for “all risk” coverage. Everett Cash denied coverage for Collis’ accident. The Taylors then sued for breach of contract. The trial judge denied summary judgment for Everett Cash; a split Indiana Court of Appeals reversed.

The Taylors argued Collis’ claim is a premises liability claim, so their policy should cover it. Everett Cash argued Collis’ claim is for workers’ compensation benefits, which are excluded under the policy. It claimed the occurrence under the policy must be an accident, and that the claim arose because of the Taylors’ failure to verify workers’ compensation benefits.

In Everett Cash Mutual Insurance Co. v. Rick and Katrina Taylor, No. 02S03-0909-CV-395, the Supreme Court ruled the claim was a result of an accident, so it was an occurrence as defined by the policy. The justices also found the language in the policy that Everett Cash claims to exclude this coverage to be ambiguous. It’s possible to read the language to mean that if not for I.C. Section 22-3-2-14(b), Collis wouldn’t have asserted the Taylors were responsible for his injuries and so Everett Cash wouldn’t have to pay, wrote Justice Frank Sullivan.

It’s also possible to interpret the exclusion language as to apply to employers who are directly within the application of the Worker’s Compensation Act. Farm or agricultural employees are excluded under the act and the Taylors aren’t required to have workers’ compensation benefits because they own and work a farm.

One could conclude that the exemption only clarifies that the policy provides no coverage in the conventional worker’s compensation context when an employee seeks the benefits payable by an insured under the law.

“It would be beyond the ordinary understanding of the worker’s compensation system to extend the exclusion to the matter-of-first-impression scenario here – where a claim is filed against an insured by an injured worker in the employ of a third party who did not comply with its obligations under the Act,” wrote the justice. “Given that the Taylors could not have even purchased worker’s compensation insurance to protect themselves from claims by Sherlock’s employees, it is hard to imagine them thinking that an exclusion regarding worker’s compensation could preclude them from having protection from a lawsuit by someone injured in an accident on their property.”

The justices held for an insurance policy to exclude such a claim as the one in the instant case, the exclusion must be more explicit than the language used in the Everett Cash policy.
 

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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