COA rules workers’ comp is remedy for temporary employee

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A man who suffered severe heat stroke while working as a temporary employee failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals this his only employer was the temp agency.

Brian Frontz filed a lawsuit against Middletown Enterprises Inc. after he sustained permanent injuries while working for the company. He argued the Worker’s Compensation Act was not the avenue for him to file a claim against Middletown because Wimmer Temporaries Inc., the company that had assigned Frontz to work for Middletown, was his sole employer.

Blackford Superior Court disagreed and granted summary judgment for Middletown.

On appeal, Frontz asserted the trial court erred in finding that Middletown was his joint employer.

In Louise Frontz, Guardian of the Person and Estate of Brian O’Neal Frontz, and Brian Frontz v. Middletown Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Sinclair Glass, 05A04-1307-PL-364, the Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Pointing to Kenwal Steel Corp. v. Seyring, 903 N.E.2d 510, 515 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009), which found that Ind. Code 22-3-6-1 establishes the lessee of temporary employees is a joint employer, the Court of Appeals found that Frontz’s only remedy is to file workers’ compensation claims against both his employer and the company to which he was leased.

“The trial court relied on Kenwal in deciding that Wimmer and Middletown were joint employers of Frontz because Wimmer, as a professional employment agency that provides temporary workers to other businesses, was the lessor and Middletown was the lessee of Frontz,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the court. “Frontz invites us to reconsider our decision in Kenwal, but we decline his invitation.”


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