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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 grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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