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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ohio Supreme Court Upholds Workers’ Comp Limitation

The Ohio Supreme Court has handed down two decisions upholding a 2005 state law known as R.C. 2745.01. In their two 6-1 decisions, the justices found that, as R.C. 2745.01 states, employees who want to file “workplace intentional torts” while they are on Workers’ Compensation must prove that the employer acted “with a deliberate intent to cause injury”.

The two decisions were made with regard to several sections of the Ohio Constitution, all of which recent lawsuits claimed were violated by R.C. 2745.01.

1. Section 34 or 35 of Article II

These sections authorize the Ohio General Assembly to enact statutes providing for "the comfort, health, safety and general welfare of all employees," and to create laws for resolution of job-related injury claims through the Ohio Workers' Compensation program. The Ohio Supreme Court held in Kaminski v. Metal & Wire Products Co., that the statute R.C. 2745.01 does not violate these sections.

2. Multiple Other Sections

The sections at issue were those that guarantee trial by jury, open courts, due process, a damages remedy, and equal protection and separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government. The Justices found that R.C. 2745.01 violates none of those sections.

Justice Robert Cupp, who wrote the two opinions, stated that Workers’ Compensation is designed to be a “no-fault” system. He further stated:

  • "As this court has often recognized, workers' compensation laws are the result of a unique mutual compromise between employees and employers, in which employees give up their common-law remedy and accept possibly lower monetary recovery, but with greater assurance that they will receive reasonable compensation for their injury. Employers in turn give up common-law defenses but are protected from unlimited liability."

He noted that in this context, the traditional standards of what constitutes a “just” result can be subordinated to other concerns, and that “awards are routinely made to employees injured as the result of their own misconduct."

If you are wondering about some aspect of your employment and would like to know more about employment law and what your legal rights and options might be, please contact us at The Cochran Firm today for a free case review.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 1:56 PM

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