South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Worksite Owner Not Shielded from Tort Liability for Injury Suffered by Contract Worker
Description Appeals court held that a food service worker who was sent by her employer to work at a cafeteria operated at another company's worksite could sue that company in tort for an injury she suffered on the premises. Immunity from tort based on workers' compensation applies only to her employer, not the owner of the work location.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Workers' Compensation; Temporary Help; Tort Liability; Immunity
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Peronto worked for the food service division of Compass. Compass provided food service for Case Corporation. While walking to a Case cafeteria, Peronto fell into an improperly covered storm grade and suffered severe leg injuries. She filed a workers' compensation claim with Compass's insurer and received benefits from that claim. She sued Case for negligence. Case claimed immunity from suit under the workers' compensation law, which is often the exclusive remedy for injured employees. The trial court dismissed the suit. Peronto appealed.
Decision

Reversed and remanded. Case claims the workers' compensation tort immunity applies to it as it considers Peronto to be temporary help. That is not correct. Peronto worked for Compass. Her terms and conditions of employment were set by Compass. She was supervised by Compass. With the exception of being provided keys to the cafeteria by Case, and being told what days the facility would be closed, she had little supervision by Case. She worked at Case, but not for Case. She was not temporary help as may be provided by a temporary help agency that provides short-term employees. Such help is covered by workers' compensation, but that does not apply to Peronto. Case does not have immunity from tort liability.

Citation Peronto v. Case Corp., 693 N.W.2d 133 (Ct. App., Wisc., 2005)

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