Monday, March 25, 2013

Fryer v. Kranz case brief

Fryer v. Kranz case brief
616 N.W.2d 102 (S.D. 2000)

SYNOPSIS: Appellant employer challenged the order of the Circuit Court of the Third Judicial Circuit, Codington County (South Dakota), denying his motion for summary judgment.

OVERVIEW: As part of a remodeling project, appellant employer wanted appellee to remove grout and other residue from ceramic tile floors, which proved difficult. Appellant purchased muriatic acid, a strong, highly corrosive chemical, for the job. The product label warned that for proper use, the acid should be diluted, the vapors were harmful when the acid was used improperly, and the product was for exterior use only. These warnings were not readable when appellee used the chemical. Over the course of time appellee developed severe reactions, and although she complained, she was admitted to the hospital where she remained for four days and continued to suffer health problems. The circuit court denied appellant's summary judgment motion after appellee brought various personal injury claims against him, based on the theory that appellant intentionally caused her injuries.

On appeal, the court reversed the order, stating that appellant was entitled to summary judgment, because although his actions were clearly negligent, and probably reckless, they did not amount to an intentional act.

-Workers' compensation covers employment-related accidental injury of every nature.
-No matter what form employer conduct takes, be it careless, grossly negligent, reckless, or wanton, if it is not a conscious and deliberate intent directed to the purpose of inflicting an injury, workers' compensation remains the exclusive remedy.
-Even when an employer's acts entail knowingly permitting a hazardous work condition to exist, knowingly ordering a claimant to perform an extremely dangerous job, or willfully failing to furnish a safe place to work, still they come within the ambit of workers' compensation.

OUTCOME: Order reversed. Although appellant's conduct was clearly negligent, probably reckless, and possibly wanton, it did not amount to an intentional act. Therefore, denial of the motion for summary judgment was error.

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