Tuesday, May 7, 2013

PA Supreme Court Upholds Employee Third-Party Injury Waiver

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (SCOPA?) recently issued its opinion in Bowman v. Sunoco, Inc. (copy here). As a condition of employment, the plaintiff-security guard signed a worker's compensation disclaimer that included a waiver of claims for injuries against the security company's customers.

Well, wouldn't you just know it . . . she slipped and fell on snow and ice while guarding a customer's refinery. She filed a worker's comp claim and received benefits. Then, she sued the customer. In discovery, the customer found the waiver and filed for judgment on the pleadings, which was granted.

On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed. The employee had bargained away her right to bring a claim against the third-party, her employer's customer, for injuries covered by worker's compensation. Finally, if you're like me, you'll want to see the actual disclaimer:

I understand that state Workers’ Compensation statutes cover workrelated injuries that may be sustained by me. If I am injured on the job, I understand that I am required to notify my manager immediately. The manager will inform me of my state’s Workers’ Compensation law as it pertains to seeking medical treatment. This is to assure that reasonable medical treatment for an injury will be paid for by Allied Workers’ Compensation insurance.

As a result, and in consideration of Allied Security offering me employment, I hereby waive and forever release any and all rights I may have to:

-make a claim, or
-commence a lawsuit, or
-recover damages or losses

from or against any customer (and the employees of any customer) of Allied Security to which I may be assigned, arising from or related to injuries which are covered under the Workers’ Compensation statutes.
Image: Pennsylvania State Capitol Building, taken by me.