The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned a lower appellate court’s ruling that denied a bid by The Home Depot Inc. to dismiss a lawsuit brought by an employee bitten by a customer’s dog on the basis that the case would fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of workers’ compensation.
The plaintiff, Lindsay Franczyk, filed for compensation benefits after she was injured by the dog bite, but she claims her supervisor allowed the dog owner and witnesses to leave the store before she could gather identifying information to pursue a third-party claim.
Franczyk, who demanded surgical repair, asserted negligence claims against Home Depot.
Home Depot moved for summary judgment on the claim that it was immune from suit under the Workers̵7; Compensation Act, but a trial court denied the motion and on appeal the Pennsylvania Superior Court agreed, allowing the suit to proceed.
The Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiff’s view that she was not seeking to recover from the defendant for the dog bite itself, but rather for the financial loss she suffered when she lost the opportunity to sue the dog owner.
In its ruling Wednesday that overturned the lower courts, the state Supreme Court ruled that summary judgment should have been granted to the employer on the basis that the exclusivity provision in state law specifically refers to the employer’s immunity from “any kind of third-party liability in a third-party measure.”
The Supreme Court ruled that the case did not cross the threshold necessary to trigger the very few exceptions to the comp exclusivity rule.