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Rayford H. Taylor
Of Counsel
Casey Gilson P.C.
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Carr v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., (10/02/2012)

Statutory Employer Entitled to Workers' Compensation Immunity Following Settlement of Case Between Employee and Immediate Employer

This was an action for personal injuries, which Lester Carr sustained while working at a FedEx facility. His wife, Charlene Carr - individually and as his guardian and the conservator - appealed from a grant of summary judgment to FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. ("FedEx"). Fed Ex contended the action was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of the Workers' Compensation Act. 

On July 2, 2007, Lester Carr was seriously injured in a fight with a FedEx employee at a FedEx facility. At the time, Lester Carr was at the facility pursuant to his work as a truck driver for J. Wigg Trucking, Inc., a sole proprietorship owned by Jethro Wiggins ("Wiggins") that had a contract to provide trucking services to FedEx.

In a separate proceeding, Charlene Carr obtained workers' compensation benefits on Lester Carr's behalf from Wiggins.  Charlene Carr then filed the instant personal injury action against FedEx, alleging negligent hiring, supervision and retention, as well as failure to maintain safe premises. The trial court granted summary judgment to FedEx on the ground that FedEx was a statutory employer immune from liability under the exclusive remedy provision of the Workers' Compensation Act.

O.C.G.A. § 34-9-8(a) provides that "[a] principal, intermediate, or subcontractor shall be liable for compensation to any employee injured while in the employ of any of his subcontractors engaged upon the subject matter of the contract to the same extent as the immediate employer." O.C.G.A. § 34-9-8(a) applies only where the principal has contracted to perform certain work for another and has subcontracted some or all of that work.

On appeal, Charlene Carr contended that genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether Lester Carr's injuries were compensable under workers' compensation as arising out of and in the course of his employment. The court noted it is undisputed that Lester Carr obtained workers' compensation benefits for those injuries under a settlement with his immediate employer, Wiggins.  Because Lester Carr settled his workers' compensation claim, his representative cannot avoid summary judgment by arguing a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding the compensability of his injuries.

Since FedEx was Lester Carr's statutory employer at the time of the injury, it was entitled to workers' compensation immunity following settlement of his case.

 

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