Industrial worker cannot sue employer under labor code provision
Under a recent ruling by the Division Seven Court of Appeals, an industrial worker who lost part of his arm in a work mishap in 2009 at Unistar is unable to hold his employer accountable for the accident beyond receiving workers compensation. The accident, which took place in February 2009, occurred when the worker’s hand became stuck to a frozen pork cube he had been attempting to push down the grinder chute. As a result, his arm was fed down the machine and had to be partially amputated.
The worker later tried to sue Unistar for an alleged failure to install a guard on the machine. His claim was based on a labor code law that permits workers to obtain damages for injuries caused by their employer’s failure to install a safety guard on a “power press.” The machine, a “Butcher Boy” meat grinder, was indeed designed to operate with such a safety guard. The issue in this case was whether the meat grinder is a power press within the meaning of the law?
The court determined that the worker was unable to base his claim on the law, since the meat grinder didn’t technically meet the definition of a power press. So, the man lost the case on a technicality. It isn’t clear whether there is any other basis for recovery from his employer. If not, he is confined to recovery through workers compensation.
When a worker is injured, it just cannot be assumed that his or her employer will be supportive. When it comes to workers’ compensation or other civil claims, employees need to have the assistance of an experienced attorney to ensure they recover appropriate compensation.
Source: Metnews.com, “Meat Grinder Held Not to Be a ‘Power Press’ Under Workers’ Compensation Exclusivity Exception,” Justin Levine, November 18, 2013.