On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of South Carolina approved a jury award of $ 16 million to the family of a maintenance worker at a polyester fiber factory who died after years of asbestos exposure.
Hystron Fibers Inc., owned by the corresponding CNA Holdings, hired Daniel Construction Co. 1965 to build a factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina. When the plant began operating in 1967, Hystron retained Daniel to provide all maintenance and repair workers at the plant, pay an annual fee and reimburse the construction company for certain costs, including workers' compensation, according to documents in Keene v CNA Holdings, LLC, filed in Columbia.
Dennis Seay was employed by Daniel and worked in various maintenance and repair positions at the factory from 1
Mr. Seay and his wife sued CNA Holdings – the plant owner's successor – claiming that Hoechst acted negligently in using asbestos and failing to warn of its dangers.
After Mr Seay died of mesothelioma, his daughter Angie Keene took over the mood as personal representative of his estate. Keene changed the complaint to add survival and unjust causes of death.
Throughout the disputes, CNA Holdings claimed that Mr Seay was a statutory employee and that the State Workers' Compensation Act was the exclusive measure of his claim. The district court disagreed and denied CNA Holding's motion for summary judgment.
A jury in Spartanburg County awarded Mr. Seay's property $ 14 million in actual damages and $ 2 million in punitive damages. A district court denied the CNA's summary judgment and an appeals court confirmed that Seay was not employed.
The Supreme Court of South Carolina also ruled that Seay was not a statutory employee of the facility's owner and noted that Daniel Construction provided workers with compensation coverage for Mr. Seay.
The Supreme Court added that the State's guidance on statutory employees "really does not benefit from granting immunity to CNA Holdings for its misconduct."