ILNews

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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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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