Corporate relationships made clear for jury in complicated workers compensation case.

July 20th, 2018|

In Tulsa County District Court, Jim Johnson took to trial a lawsuit brought by a construction contractor. The contractor contended that its workers compensation insurer negligently performed two annual premium audits.  The alleged negligence caused the contractor to be assessed premiums for workers who the contractor says are not employees (who must be insured) but instead, independent contractors (responsible for their own insurance).  The contractor also complained that the premium audit wrongly included employees of an uninsured subcontractor who is an affiliate of the contractor.   The number of employees of an insured directly correlates the amount of premium owed by the employer for workers compensation insurance.  Here, at issue was more than $400,000.  Concluding a week-long trial, a Tulsa County jury rejected the contractor’s demand for money damages.  The complex corporate relationships of the contractor, its employees, subcontractors and independent contractors meant that it was critical to define them for the jury in clear, simple and easily-understood terms. Keeping the jury alert over the course of a week that was dedicated to technical aspects of the independent contractor / employee distinctions and entire workers compensation premium process presented its own challenges.  The jury’s verdict shows that we met those challenges.