Exclusive Remedy – North Carolina Affirms
The North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled the doctrine of exclusive remedy is still intact. The legal environment of today has begun to erode exclusive remedy.
Workers Compensation was originally structured to be the only remedy for injuries suffered on the job. Employees cannot bring suit against their employers as general liability claims. Employers are not able to deny the claim due to the employee’s negligence. This balance was the underpinning of WC for many years.
There are states that have been eroding exclusive remedy over time such as California. Recently, I came across a North Carolina Court of Appeals case that concerned exclusive remedy.
The first case was taken from the 2015 North Carolina Court of Appeals opinions. If you want to view the complete decision, please follow the link.
Plaintiff Jeffrey Bowden was injured at work. While his workers’ compensation claim was pending, he sued First Liberty Insurance Corporation, the insurer handling the claim, for intentional infliction of emotional distress and bad faith. Bowden alleged that First Liberty engaged in a host of intentionally wrongful conduct while handling his claim and that he suffered various emotional injuries as a result.
First Liberty moved to dismiss the claims on the ground that the Industrial
Commission had exclusive jurisdiction. The trial court denied the motion and First
We reverse. This case is controlled by Johnson v. First Union Corp., 131 N.C. App. 142, 143-44, 504 S.E.2d 808, 809 (1998) and Deem v. Treadaway & Sons Painting & Wallcovering, Inc., 142 N.C. App. 472, 477-78, 543 S.E.2d 209, 212 (2001). In Johnson and Deem, this Court held that claims arising from an employer’s or insurer’s processing and handling of a workers’ compensation claim—even intentional torts—fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Industrial Commission.
We agree with First Liberty that the claims asserted in this case are indistinguishable from those we previously held to be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Industrial Commission in Johnson and Deem. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court and remand for dismissal of the claims against First Liberty for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
The Woodson v Rowland case from 1991 did allow for an intentional tort to have jurisdiction outside of the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
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