Sunday, April 11, 2010
Ohio Supreme Court Declares New Workers' Compensation Statute Constitutional
In what has been an ongoing battle at the Supreme Court of Ohio for the last decade or more, the Supreme Court of Ohio has found the newest version of the "intentional tort" section of the Workers' Compensation statute to be constitutional. In Kaminski v. Metal & Wire Products Co. the Court held that the General Assembly's most recent version of a law that gives greater protection to employers is, notwithstanding the holdings of previous panels of the Supreme Court of Ohio, constitutional. In Ohio, in order for an employee to sue an employer that causes an on-the-job injury to the employee, the employee, under the new law, must prove that the employer acted “with a deliberate intent to cause injury.” If the employee cannot prove that, then, regardless of the employer's negligence or the employee's injury, the employee is regulated to whatever he/she can get paid by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation. This ruling is the latest stage of an ongoing battle between forces who want to make it harder to sue employers for serious and reckless workplace injuries and those who believe that taking away an employee's right to sue for serious and reckless workplace injuries is a violation of the Ohio Constitutional "trial by jury" clause. The ongoing debate has to do with whether allowing more protection for employers will, in essence, indirectly encourage more injuries or death. We see this as just another stage of what will most likely be an endless battle between the forces behind business interests and the forces behind worker protection. Stay tuned - and be extra careful at work.