The mother of a boy who died illegally while working on a farm did not show that the farm owner's actions were so unfortunate that they fall within an exception to the Workers' Compensation Act.
Smith v. Park a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court of New York, Appelate Division, Third Chamber unanimously affirmed a New York Workers Compensation Board's decision to dismiss the mother's complaint against the landlord seeking damages for her son's death .
In July 2015, 14-year-old Alex Smith died while running a ski steering owned by Park Family Farm. The boy had been working in the yard illegally and was using the heavy equipment without permission when the accident occurred.
His mother, Vicky Smith, sought the death benefits of workers, and the farm, which had had coverage at the time of the accident, accepted the claim. The farm was also led by the workers' compensation committee to pay increased death benefits as a result of the illegal employment.
Mrs. Smith filed a complaint against the farm's owner, Luke Park, claiming he had committed criminal behavior related to her son's death. Park moved for a brief assessment, arguing that Ms Smith's sentencing was hindered by the exclusive provision of the Workers Compensation Act.
The Board dismissed the trial and considered that Smith could not show that the conduct of Mr. Park brought the matter within an exception to the law.
The Appeal Court upheld the decision. The court found that the board had already determined that the boy's injuries "suffered inadvertently and during employment" and that Ms. Smith could not show that Mr. Park participated in "deliberate acts … to harm [the boy] or to injure him."
Although Mr. Park could have been considered negligent in his supervision of the boy, the Court of Appeal found that Smith did not present any evidence that he acted on the basis of "intentional injury to harm" as required to show an exception to the statute's exclusive cure.