Peters v. Wady Industries, Inc. -- New Co-employee Liability Case
The rule used to be settled that Workers' Compensation provides the exclusive remedy for Missouri employees in claims against their employers. In other words, a Missouri employee injured at work could only obtain workers comp from his or her employer--there was no right to sue the employer for damages. Further, Missouri law was clear that that immunity extended to co-employees of the injured worker.
In 2010, the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals held that co-employee immunity did not apply anymore in light of 2005 statutory amendments. As of 2012, the statute was adjusted to reinstitute co-employee immunity going forward. However, since that time there has been significant litigation concerning the scope of co-employee liability that still exists in some form for the period from 2005-2012.
The majority and dissenting opinions in Peters v. Wady Industries, Inc. survey the development of the law in this area. The holding ultimately transfers the case to the Supreme Court of Missouri in order to resolve the conflicting cases. This is not the first case transferred to the Supreme Court over this issue, so a resolution is anticipated.
Curt and Cheri Peters appeal the trial court’s judgment dismissing their negligence action against Patrick Terrio.
Division One holds:
The facts pleaded in Peters’s petition, even if true, fall squarely within the employer’s non-delegable duty to provide a safe workplace. Thus, as a matter of law, Peters cannot establish the existence of an independent duty on the part of Terrio.