- Michigan Federal Court Grants Motion to Dismiss Tort Claims that Failed to Meet LHWCA Exclusivity Exceptions
- July 9, 2014
- Law Firm: Sutherland Asbill Brennan LLP - Washington Office
A millwright at a vessel-loading facility was injured when handling mooring cables without having been trained to do so. His amended complaint included two tort claims against his employer that allegedly fell within limited exceptions to the exclusivity of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”). First, the millwright argued the employer was liable for a maritime tort action because it waived its LHWCA immunity by failing to pay compensation. Second, the millwright alleged the employer was liable for an intentional tort under Michigan law because, due to his lack of training, the injury was certain to occur. The employer filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted the employer’s motion in its entirety. First, the court dismissed the maritime tort claim. Although there is an exception to LHWCA exclusivity where an employer “fails to secure payment of compensation,” the court held that by obtaining insurance, the employer had secured payment as the statute required, even if it did not actually make the payment. The court also dismissed the state law intentional tort claim. While an intentional tort claim is an exception to LHWCA exclusivity when there is a deliberate intent to injure, the court held that the millwright did not meet this “extremely high standard,” as the employer had no knowledge of the “specific danger” and carelessness does not establish intent.