On November 5, 2020, the Rhode Island Supreme Court reexamined the Exclusivity Provision of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act in Selby v. Baird.
The plaintiff suffered a serious injury while working as a foreman for a tree removal crew. He brought a workers’ compensation claim against Mulch-N-More and was awarded benefits. He then filed a separate negligence claim in Superior Court against Mike’s Professional Tree Service.
The Supreme Court held that the plaintiff was an employee of Mike’s Professional Tree Services, citing its dominion and operational control over the plaintiff. The fact that another company served an administrative function in providing the plaintiff with his paycheck and workers’ compensation benefits did not change that fact. Thus, the Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court’s ruling in granting summary judgment and denied the negligence claim.
This case was on point with prior holdings. Even so, the Court’s latest decision may allow for a more expansive application of the Exclusive Remedy Doctrine in future tort actions.
If you have any questions whatsoever regarding this or any other workers’ compensation matter, please do not hesitate to contact either Sarah Wheeler (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Peter Garvey (email@example.com).
A thorough explanation of the Court’s decision can be found in the Client Alert here.