Maryland Court of Special Appeals Rules Against Co-Worker Liability in Garbage Truck Injury Case

garbage-truck-924177-mIn a recent workers’ compensation case, Blue v. Arrington, Md. Ct. Sp. App. (2015), the Maryland Court of Special Appeals had before it the issue of an individual attempting to seek compensation due to the alleged negligence of his co-worker in causing his personal injuries suffered while on duty.

The case arose out of an incident in which the plaintiff, Stinyard Blue, was working for Baltimore City. He was performing his duties as an aide on a garbage truck. As such, he was “side mounted” on the outside of the garbage truck that his co-worker was driving. Then, while reportedly on a cellphone, the co-worker turned the vehicle, crushing the plaintiff’s legs and midsection between a fence and a brick wall. Following the incident, the plaintiff filed a claim under the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act, for which he received benefits for lost wages, medical expenses, and permanent disability.

Following the workers’ compensation claim, the plaintiff filed a complaint in the local circuit court against his co-worker, alleging that he was negligent in failing to exercise the proper level of care in driving the vehicle. The City, on behalf of the co-worker, moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that by statute local government employees cannot file complaints against negligent co-workers for tortious conduct occurring within the scope of employment that are compensable by the Maryland workers’ compensation scheme. The circuit court agreed with that interpretation and granted the motion to dismiss.

The plaintiff challenged the finding, under appeal, and argued that the Maryland statute precluding his suit was a violation of his equal protection rights. The court thus engaged in an overview of the various constitutional standards applied in construing the legality of statutes, and it found that the law was subject to a rational basis test, which it passed because it did not burden a suspect class or a fundamental right.

The court engaged in a discussion of the limitation of the local governmental liability on the basis that the state wanted to limit the amount of settlements for which taxpayers were ultimately footing the bill.

Additionally, it found that, since the statute only applied to claims that were otherwise covered by workers’ compensation benefits, it did not restrict access to courts and did not restrict claims that fell without the confines of the workers’ compensation scheme.

The judgment of the circuit court was thus affirmed.

When it comes to a situation in which you or a loved one are injured on the job or suffer physically as a result of a job, you may need the help of our Maryland workers’ compensation attorneys in Greenbelt, MD. A workers’ compensation attorney from Foran & Foran, P.A. will be able to provide you with personal and professional representation that inspires confidence.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court of Special Appeals Rules in Medical Malpractice Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 24, 2015