Friday, September 4, 2009

Superior Court discusses distinction between "leased worker" and "temporary worker"

In Central Mut. Ins. Co. v. True Plastics, Inc., 2009 WL 2603151, the Superior Court held that whether or not a worker was a leased worker, in which case there would be no insurance coverage pursuant to a general liability policy, or a temporary worker, in which case there would be coverage, was a disputed issue of fact.

Sanchez was injured while working on the premises of True Plastics, the insured. She was an employee of Dynamic Staffing, Inc., a company in the business of placing its employees at client companies.

True Plastics had a general liability policy which excluded coverage for a "leased worker" but provided coverage for a "temporary worker." Leased worker was defined in the policy as:

a person leased to you by a labor leasing firm under an agreement between you and the labor leasing firm, to perform duties related to the conduct of your business. "Leased worker" does not include "temporary worker."

Temporary worker was defined in the policy as:

a person who is furnished to you to substitute for a permanent "employee" on leave or to meet seasonal or short-term workload conditions.

The court denied summary judgment to both True Plastics and the insurer because whether Sanchez was a leased worker or a temporary worker was a disputed issue of fact. Evidence supporting the conclusion that Sanchez was a leased worker included an affidavit that Sanchez was assigned to True Plastics for an indefinite time, and the agreement between Dynamic Staffing and True Plastics suggesting a leasing arrangement.

Evidence tending to show that Sanchez was a temporary worker included testimony that Sanchez was hired to fill a large new order for products and was manufacturing that product at the time of her injury.

The court's decision denying summary judgment is in line with the United States Court of Appeals in the case of Scottsdale Ins. Co. v. Torres, 561 F.3d 74 (1st Cir. 2009), which I discussed here. In Torres the court also denied summary judgment to both sides. It held that a placement for an indefinite period of time is not necessarily incompatible with the possibility that the worker was furnished to address a short-term workload condition. The court remanded the case for resolution of the question of how the injured worker's placement fit within the insured's ordinary course of business and the nature of its work flow.