NY Supreme Court Rejects Workers’ Suit After Cow Falls on Him

Liz Carey

Utica, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – The New York Supreme Court has denied a worker the right to sue a farm for damages after a cow fell on him.
According to court records, in March 2018, John Kelsey was working at Hourigan’s Udder Place, when a cow fell on him. He filed a workers’ compensation claim listing the Udder Place, Gerald Hourigan Dairy Farm and Gerald Hourigan, Jr. as his employers, and asking for compensation for injuries he sustained from the cow at his place of employment. After an administrative hearing, the Workers’ Compensation Board found in his favor and awarded him damages.

Hourigan appealed the decision

When Hourigan appealed, Kelsey then sued Hourigan for damages in civil court.
“While defendant’s administrative appeal of that determination was pending, plaintiffs commenced this action seeking to recover damages for injuries that plaintiff sustained in the accident,” the court record said. “Thereafter, defendant withdrew his administrative appeal, and the Board awarded plaintiff $142,384.32, which was paid through October 30, 2018.”

Hourigan’s attorney’s argued Kelsey couldn’t sue Hourigan because workers’ compensation was his sole remedy for recovering damages from an injury at work.

While the court initially determined Kelsey could sue Hourigan, the court reversed itself and said it was in error.

“Workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy… and, for purposes of workers’ compensation exclusivity, ‘a partnership and its partners are considered one entity when acting in furtherance of partnership business’,” the court said. “Here, plaintiff ‘initiated a workers’ compensation claim against defendant and . . . received benefits from defendan.’ Further, plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that defendants operated the farm as business partners, and defendants admitted that allegation in their answer. We thus conclude that the workers’ compensation benefits that plaintiff received are his “sole remedy” against defendants.”

The court dismissed Kelsey’s action against Hourigan. Justices J. P. Centra, Lindley, Carni, Nemoyer and Troutman presided.

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