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Case Law Update: Strict Liability in Workers Compensation Cases

Baltzell v. R & R Trucking Co., Nos. 06-1652 (2/4/09) ruled that in strict liability action by plaintiff seeking recovery for injuries received while working for third-party defendant, Dist. Ct. erred in denying third-party defendant’s motion to dismiss defendants-third-party plaintiffs’ contribution claims in exchange for waiver of workers’ compensation lien that third-party defendant held on plaintiffs’ recovery from defendants. Under LaFever, 706 NE2d 441, employer can escape contribution liability altogether by waiving its lien on employee’s recovery from third-parties regardless of when employer makes decision to waive lien. Ct. rejected defendants’ argument that LaFever should not apply since third-party defendant had not yet paid out all of workers’ compensation benefits that it owed to plaintiff at time it had filed motion to dismiss contribution claims. This case will have an effect on workers’ compensation cases.