Appellate Attorneys Convince PA Supreme Court to Reinstate Statutory Employer Doctrine
Won a unanimous victory in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court whereby the Court reinstated a long-standing statutory employer defense for general contractors and others who are sued in tort for injuries to subcontractors' employees. Representing Worthington in Patton v Worthington Associates, our appellate attorneys successfully argued that the statutory employer issue is a matter of law and not one to be decided by a jury.
The Court's decision is significant because it negates a large verdict and reverses two lower court decisions that had essentially nullified Pennsylvania's long-standing statutory employer doctrine, which creates an employment relationship between a contractor and the employees of subcontractors, such that the employees are entitled to workers' compensation benefits from the contractor but, in exchange, the contractor receives the same workers' compensation immunity from tort liability that an actual employer receives. The doctrine operates primarily to immunize contractors on construction projects from tort lawsuits by the injured employees of subcontractors. Two dozen construction and insurance groups participated as amici in support of the appeal. The Supreme Court's decision ensures that protection remains in place.