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Oregon NFIB: Petitions Supreme Court on Workers’ Comp case

August 23, 2012

State Supreme Court Petitioned on Critical Workers’ Compensation Issue
By Oregon NFIB,

NFIB/Oregon is joining an effort led by Associated Oregon Industries (AOI) to petition the Oregon Supreme Court on behalf of Oregon limited liability companies (LLCs).  NFIB alerted its members a few months ago about a recent decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals that will have huge liability ramifications for owners and members of LLCs in Oregon.

In Antonio Cortez v. Nacco Materials Handling Group, Inc., the Appeals Court ruled that the exclusive remedy provision of Oregon’s workers’ compensation law, ORS 656.018, does not protect the members of an LLC from tort liability.

In other words, under the ruling, the owners and members of an Oregon-based LLC are considered personally liable for damages arising from workplace injuries. The Cortez ruling could also be potentially used to strip exclusive remedy protections from other employers as well.

The court’s holding undermines the long-standing basic tenant of Oregon’s workers’ compensation statute that an injured workers’ exclusive remedy against their employer is via the workers’ compensation system.

The issue stemming from the Cortez decision is that all employers across Oregon are protected from liability under Oregon’s workers’ compensation exclusive remedy statute – except for LLC owners and members.

Following AOI’s lead, NFIB and 11 other business association partners joined in an amicus brief to the Oregon Supreme Court to make the case for reviewing this decision. The fact that 13 business groups joined together on this brief illustrates the gravity of the issue to Oregon’s statewide business community.
The amicus brief strategy is a complement to our legislative strategy of fixing the issue in the 2013 Legislative Session.

NFIB thanks AOI for its leadership in this effort and thanks all business association partners for making this a powerful collaborative effort:

Associated General Contractors–Columbia Chapter
Oregon Home Builders Association
Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association
Oregon Forest Industries Council
Associated Oregon Loggers
Oregon Farm Bureau Federation
Oregon Trucking Association
Oregon Concrete and Aggregate Producers Association
National Federation of Independent Business – Oregon
Oregon Auto Dealers Association
Portland Business Alliance
Oregon Seed Council
You can view the legal brief here.

The next step in this process is that the Oregon Supreme Court will review the briefing to determine whether or not it wants to review this case. We expect there is a high likelihood that the Supreme Court will, in fact, address the case, in which instance AOI will look to brief the Court on the merits of overturning the Appeals Court ruling.

  
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