When employees get injured at work, they can’t sue because workers’ comp is their “exclusive remedy,” right? That’s not the case if a company is found to have intentionally allowed employees to be harmed, as this case shows.
Four employees of furniture manufacturer Franklin Corp. of Houston, MS, sued the company for injuries they suffered from a hazardous glue they used.
Franklin argued that the lawsuit shouldn’t be allowed. It said the matter should have gone before the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission.
The employees said Franklin ignored their complaints and information about exposure contained on the glue’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). They also claimed the company didn’t properly ventilate the factory.
A court allowed the case to go to trial, and a jury awarded damages totaling $9.5 million to the workers. A judge reduced that amount to $3.76 million.
The company appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court which found that the lower court had ruled correctly in letting the case go to a jury trial because there were “genuine issues of fact as to whether there was intent to injure.”
You can download the court’s decision here (free Adobe Acrobat Reader required).