Defeated Challenge To The Arkansas Exclusive Remedy Provision Of The Workers’ Compensation Act
Barret Marshall and Matt Sapp successfully defended a civil action brought by a former employee against an HPTY client based on the exclusivity provision of the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Act. Barret Marshall argued the motion which was heard by Saline County District Court Judge, Grisham A. Phillips. The plaintiff argued that the District Court should exercise jurisdiction over the claims because the Act did not provide a remedy for the employee’s injury due to the expiration of the limitations period prior to the plaintiff developing mesothelioma. Alternatively, the plaintiff claimed she had pleaded an actionable intentional tort claim constituting an exception under the Act. The plaintiff relied heavily on recent decisions in Pennsylvania and Illinois cases (Tooey v. AK Steel and Folta v. Ferro Engineering) that allowed former employees to proceed with civil actions where the employees’ diseases manifested outside of the applicable limitations periods. Judge Phillips agreed with HPTY’s position that a successful assertion of the limitations period under the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Act does not prevent application of the Act’s exclusivity provision and that the plaintiff’s allegations did not allege an actionable intentional tort under Arkansas precedent. Judge Phillips dismissed the plaintiff’s claims against HPTY’s client with prejudice.