A building and roofing company was the statutory employer of a man who experienced serious injuries after he fell off a roof, even though he acted as an employee of a subcontractor, the Supreme Court in Nebraska ruled.
In Martinez v CMR Construction & Roofing on Friday, a third panel of the Court unanimously confirmed a state compensation court that found that CMR Construction & Roofing of Texas LLC was obliged to compensate the employee for the damage he sustained at work .
In 2014, Haltom City, Texas-based CMR entered into an agreement with a subcontractor for repairing roofs. CMR verified the subcontractor's compensation insurance and instructed the subcontractor to add CMR into its policy and issue a certificate that shows that the company would be notified of any changes to the policy.
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In 2016, Nebraska Workers Compensation Court considered that CMR was the statutory employer of Martinez, found that CMR acknowledged that it had "created or executed an operation" schedule, artwork or entity "… to avoid employer liability." CMR brought an appeal appeal, which was dismissed by the Nebraska Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal held a lawsuit in the case and claimed that Martinez was entitled to temporary total disability for the three months following the accident and found that he had a 80% loss in his service capacity and was therefore entitled to permanent partial disability benefits for a period of 286 weeks. The court ordered CMR to pay nearly $ 53,000 in medical and physiotherapy expenses, claiming that Martinez was entitled to the award of future care for his neck injury.
CMR appealed the decision, but the Supreme Court in Nebraska confirmed. Although CMR claimed that it was not qualified as a statutory employer, as it required the subcontractor to gain work compatibility, the court disagreed and noted that the Texas-based insurer had never been empowered to issue competencies in Nebraska – and noted that policies clearly indicated that coverage did not include states other than Texas. Although the subcontractor had upheld the coverage, the court held that CMR would still be jointly and severally liable for compensating the injured employees under the Nebraska Law.
CMR also argued about Martinez's work ability, but the court found that Evidence on Martinez's permanent physical limitations supported the determination of his service capacity. The court also confirmed the court's award of lawyer fees to Martinez and his right to future care.
"At the end of the day, my client deserved the decision because he was injured," said James R. Walz of Omaha, lawyer for Martinez. "There are many ways that this employer could have avoided this decision against them. You have to do your own due diligence, and if you can't pay the bill because your insurers may not cover it either."
CMR's lawyer Ben Maxwell from Govier , Katskee, Suing & Maxwell PC in Omaha, said he believes the court wrongly found that CMR was the statutory employer of Martinez.
"At the end of the day, we believe CMR did everything they needed to do business in Nebraska," he said.