A New Mexico appeals court ruled Thursday that an injured worker’s negligence against a contractor over scaffolding that was overloaded and collapsed does not meet the legal requirement for a trial outside of exclusive remedy.
Gildardo Camarena suffered permanent and serious bodily injury when a 95-foot tall scaffolding collapsed; he alleged in his lawsuit against his employer, Superior Contracting Corp. knew the scaffolding was overloaded two to four times its capacity with 16 tons of masonry blocks, according to Camarena v. Superior Contracting Corp.filed in the New Mexico Court of Appeals.
The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Superior after finding that Camarena failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact regarding the objective and subjective prongs of the state̵7;s “Delgado test,” stemming from a 2001 decision in Delgado v. Phelps Dodge Chino Inc., which provided parameters for the claim that an employer knowingly injured its employee, thereby subjecting it to general tort liability rather than worker protection for the employer.
The district court noted that the argument that the employer was aware of the danger posed by the overloaded scaffolding was based on “inferring that . . . supervisors testified untruthfully at their depositions,” which was an illegal inference in this case.
The district court determined that, even if Camarena could establish that supervisors saw the scaffolding as overloaded, the employers “did not exemplify any degree of roughness or conduct.”
The appeals court added that the evidence did not show that the employer was “in complete disregard of the consequences” of its choice to send Mr. Camarena up the overloaded scaffolding and that the record “presents no evidence that a reasonable jury could conclude that (the employer) had specific knowledge of the danger or disregarded the consequences of a dangerous situation.”