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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Exclusivity Rule Adopted in MDL Aviation Law Case

Continental Connection Bombarder Q400 operated by Colgan Air
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
In a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) case pending in New York, a Federal Court ruled that the New Jersey law governing exclusivity of claims barred an employee from proceeding with an intentional tort claim against the employer. Despite the fact that the fatal plane crash occurred in New York, the Court adopted New Jersey law since the the employer was based in New Jersey, the employee was based in New Jersey and workers' compensation benefits were being paid under New Jersey law by a New Jersey based and claims unit in New Jersey.


The Exclusivity Doctrine bars an employee from filing a claim against his or her employer outside of workers' compensation. There are some limited exceptions to that rule such as intentional actions by the employer such as concealment of medical information and gross negligence. The workers' compensation act in the overwhelming majority of claims supersedes common law actions in tort and is the exclusive remedy for an injured worker against an employer. Dudley v. Victor Lynn Lines, Inc., 32 N.J. 479, 161 A.2d 479 (1960).  Kristiansen v. Morgan et al., 153 N.J. 298, 708 A.2d 1173 (1998).




The Court reasoned that under a New York conflict-of-laws analysis, the State of New Jersey, rather than New York, had a greater interest in the case. since the plaintiff failed to meet the two prong NJ test to circumvent the NJ exclusivity rule, the case was dismissed. 


In re Air Crash Near Clarence Center New York on February 12, 2009 v. Colgan Air, Inc., et al., # 09-md-2085, 10CV-10078, 2012 WL 1029530 (W.D.N.Y.) March 26, 2012

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For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered work related accident and injuries.


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