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Worker killed by exploding shell can only claim comp

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Workers compensation is the exclusive remedy for the death of an Illinois worker who was killed when a mortar shell exploded, said a federal court, which ruled that it does not have jurisdiction to consider part of a wrongful death claim.

The U.S. District Court in Benton, Illinois, granted a motion Monday to dismiss part of a wrongful death case brought against Granite City, Illinois-based Totall Metal Recycling related to the death of Tyler Muenstermann in an explosion at the company’s facility. Mr. Muenstermann and another man were killed when a mortar shell at the facility exploded.

The court noted the exclusive remedy provision of Illinois workers comp law, which says “an employee has no right to recover damages from the employer or its agents or employees for accidental injuries incurred in the course of employment.” To avoid this provision, a plaintiff must demonstrate the injury was not accidental, that it did not arise from the worker’s employment, that the injury did not happen during the course of employment, or that the injury is not compensable, the court said.

The lawsuit claimed Mr. Muenstermann’s death was not accidental because the company knew it was transporting unexploded mortars and ordnance to its facility in Illinois from the U.S. Army’s National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, court records show.

“Here, plaintiff merely alleges TMR acted intentionally in transporting dangerous materials, not that TMR acted intentionally in injuring plaintiff’s decedent,” Judge Staci M. Yandle wrote in the order. “Moreover, any allegation of TMR’s intent to injure Tyler Muenstermann would fly in the face of plaintiff’s complaint, which alleges a claim of negligence. Accordingly, plaintiff’s claim against TMR is preempted by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.”

The court dismissed the count with prejudice.