Two injured workers are not going to be getting damage rewards from their employers after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled against them.
Rulings were overturned in suits brought forth by Larry Hewitt and Bruce Houdek, both of Cleveland relating to their workplace injuries. The courts found their employees did not deliberately intend to injure the workers and therefore the plaintiffs were unable to collect civil damages.
The 2005 Ohio law concerning workplace accidents states that employees who are hurt at work are only eligible for workers compensation benefits unless there is a willful intent to injure the workers. If that intent in proven, plaintiffs can pursue larger awards.
Hewitt was working for LE Myers Co when a piece of equipment he was carrying hit a live wire. The worker was shocked through his arm and hand with 7,200 volts of electricity. He received second and third degree burns to his body. He also suffered from chronic pain and nerve damage, categorizing him as permanently disabled. Hewitt filed a personal injury suit against his employer and was awarded more than $597,000 in 2010 based on the employer instructing Hewitt to wear the wrong type of gloves. The Supreme Court ruled in essence that gloves were in the control of the employee and are not equipment safeguards.
Houdek, who died in November at age 44, was working at ThyssenKrupp Materials in their Cleveland warehouse. He was crushed by a side loader working to reach racks 25 feet high. As a result of the accident, his right leg was amputated in 2008 after the accident. Houdek’s attorney argued the employer could have done more to protect Houdek’s safety but the Supreme Court stated that a worker had to prove deliberate intent to receive an award.