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Temporary and lessee worker same under act

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In what appears to be the first time the Indiana Court of Appeals has been presented with a joint employer argument in the context of Indiana Code Section 22-3-6-1(a), the Worker's Compensation Act, the appellate court determined that "temporary employee" and "leased employee" are not mutually exclusive terms and are interchangeable.

The main issue in Kenwal Steel Corp. v. John M. Seyring, No. 45A03-0806-CV-294, is whether Elwood Staffing, a staffing agency that places temporary employees, and Kenwal, where Seyring was placed, were joint employers for purposes of the Workers' Compensation Act.

Seyring was injured in an accident while working at Kenwal, filed a worker's compensation claim against Elwood, and filed a complaint alleging Kenwal was negligent. Default judgment was entered against Kenwal; Kenwal's motion to set aside default judgment was granted, but the trial court denied its motion to dismiss.

Kenwal's argument is that because Seyring was a temporary employee, Elwood and Kenwal were joint employers pursuant to I.C. 22-3-6-1, and as his joint employer, the act provides the exclusive remedy for his injuries. The company also argued within the context of the act, temporary employees are equated to leased employees. Seyring argued that temporary employees and leased employees, the term used in the act, are not interchangeable.

The appellate court examined the statutory language of the Workers' Compensation Act and the "Guide to Indiana Worker's Compensation" handbook to rule that the act's reference to "lessor" and "lessee" isn't meant to exclude temporary employees. As such, Elwood was the lessor of Seyring, Kenwal was the lessee, and they were joint employers of him for purposes of the act, wrote Judge Michael Barnes. Seyring is therefore limited to the exclusive remedy provision of the act.

The appellate court also determined Kenwal didn't intentionally waive its right to enforce the exclusive remedy provision of the act in the terms of the company's contract with Elwood. Nothing in the contract could be construed to suggest the company intentionally relinquished its right to enforce that provision of the act, wrote the judge.

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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