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Injured worker has to prove company is secondarily liable in workers' comp claim

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The Indiana Court of Appeals split in deciding a workers’ compensation claim concerning who had the burden to prove whether the true value of work exceeded $1,000 and, therefore, triggered secondary liability.

Jason Young sued Hood’s Gardens after he was severely injured and rendered a paraplegic after trying to remove a stump from the greenhouse’s property. Hood’s had contracted with Discount Tree Extraction a/k/a D & E Tree Extraction to remove a hickory tree. The tree service was paid $600 and allowed to keep the wood.

Since Discount Tree did not carry workers’ compensation coverage, Young sought the benefits from Hood’s. He argued the value of the wood exceeded $400 increasing the value of the work to $1,000, which would have made Hood’s secondarily liable for the workers’ compensation benefits.

Hood’s countered that it was not secondarily liable because the value of the work performed was less than $1,000.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Hood’s and the Court of Appeals affirmed in Jason Young v. Hood’s Gardens, Inc., 29A02-1303-PL-298.
 
The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court’s interpretation of the state’s workers’ compensation statute as requiring parties to agree before the work begins that the project will exceed $1,000 and thus trigger secondary liability. Otherwise, the trial court reasoned, companies would be unknowingly exposing themselves to liability depending on the value of scrap they want removed from their property.

“The statute specifies that it is the contractor who furnishes the performance of work in excess of $1,000 in value, rather than any value provided by the contractee,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the majority. “Thus we interpret the statute to base secondary liability only upon the value provided by the contractor.”

Judge James Kirsch dissented, contending Hood’s – not Young – had the burden of establishing that the value of the work, which included the wood, did not exceed $1,000. Instead Hood’s did not provide any evidence showing that the value of the wood did not top $400.

Kirsch voted to reverse summary judgment and remand for further proceedings.  

 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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