- Florida Court Denies Motion for Summary Judgment in Case Alleging Employer’s Intentional Tort Caused Injuries
Florida Court Denies Motion for Summary Judgment in Case Alleging Employer’s Intentional Tort Caused Injuries
In a recent case, a Florida court refused to dismiss an insurance company from a workers’ compensation suit, finding that the employer was liable for an intentional tort. In Companion Property & Casualty Ins. Co. v. All Roof Systems, LLC, a worker suffered severe injuries while working on a rooftop as a leased employee for a construction company. While walking across the rooftop, the man fell through a hole that was covered and undetectable. After the accident, the worker and his spouse initiated a lawsuit against the roofing company. In his complaint, the worker contended that the roofing company could not avail itself of immunity from civil liability based on Section 440.11(1)(b)(2) of the Florida Statutes.
In response to the litigation, the roofing company’s insurer moved for summary judgment on the pleadings. The insurance company argued that it was not responsible for defending against the worker’s suit or indemnifying the roofing company because the injuries that the plaintiff sustained resulted from an intentional tort–the concealed hole in the roof. The insurance company relied on an important exception in Florida’s workers’ compensation law, which does preclude employers from immunity if the employee’s damages resulted from an intentional tort. In the alternative, the insurance company argued that the plaintiff’s damages were not covered by the roofing company’s workers’ compensation insurance policy.
In ruling on the motion for summary judgment, the federal judge first noted the standard of law that applies. For the motion to be granted, there must be no material facts in dispute, considering the facts in the light most favorable to the party who is not seeking summary judgment. Next, the court cited Section 440.11(1)(b)(2), which provides that leased employees’ injuries are encompassed within Florida’s workers’ compensation law system.
The court next considered the plaintiffs’ claim that the roofing company could not avail itself of the workers’ compensation immunity doctrine because the plaintiff’s injuries resulted from an intentional tort. After reviewing the insurance documents included in the complaint, however, the court found a discrepancy regarding the relationship between the roofing company and the staffing company that leased the injured worker to the roofing company. The documents listed both the roofing company and the staffing agency that provided the injured leased worker as the insured employer. The lack of clarity regarding the relationship between both employers raised both questions of law and fact, particularly when it came to the insurance company’s obligation to defend and indemnify either employer. Finding a material question of fact in dispute, the Tampa court denied the motion for summary judgment on the pleadings.
If you have suffered an injury while working, you may be entitled to compensation. The workers’ compensation system can be incredibly difficult to navigate, especially if you are suffering severe injuries. At The Hoffman Firm, our experienced workers’ compensation law professionals have helped countless South Florida workers file their claim for benefits and seek the compensation they deserve for their injuries. We offer a free consultation, so you have nothing to lose. Call us now at (800) 223-1866 or contact us online to set up your appointment.
Evan A. Hoffman
Mr. Hoffman’s philosophy is "our knowledge and experience is your best defense." He has been a featured author on criminal law issues such as driving under the influence, domestic violence and illegal searches.Read More