Exclusive Remedy: Pittman v. Western Engineering Co., Inc. 283 Neb. 913 (2012)
Issue: Whether a surviving spouse Plaintiff, who accepted workers’ compensation payments as a surviving spouse and dependent, is barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act from maintaining a separate, negligence cause of action against the decedents’ employer?
Facts: Plaintiff was a surviving spouse of an individual killed in a workplace accident near Chappell, Nebraska. Subsequent to the decedent’s death, Plaintiff accepted worker’s compensation payments as a surviving spouse and dependent. Plaintiff further agreed to fully discharge the decedent’s employer from all liability under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation laws. After approval of a lump sum death benefit, Plaintiff brought suit against the employer for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The defendants sought and were granted summary judgment, with the District Court finding Plaintiff’s cause of action barred by the exclusivity provision of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act.
Holding: On appeal, Plaintiff argued his emotional injuries, were not covered by the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act. Notwithstanding this argument, the Nebraska Supreme Court found that Plaintiff, by accepting payment as a dependent, and pursuant to the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act, released the defendants from claims arising from decedent’s death. Plaintiff had also signed a settlement agreement to that effect. Accordingly, the Nebraska Supreme Court found the defendants were entitled to employer immunity under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act.
For a complete copy of the Court’s opinion, click here