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An Alabama road flagger injured while directing traffic was not permitted to sue the paving contractor because she was a “special employee,” and not an independent contractor, who was covered under workers compensation, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled.
The high court Friday ruled that Midsouth Paving Inc. and employee Christopher Nivert should have been immune from suit because the injuries sustained by traffic flagger Yvonne Mason should have fallen under the exclusive remedy provisions of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act.
Ms. Mason applied with temporary job agency PeopleReady Inc. to work as a Midsouth flagger. On Aug. 13, 2020, she suffered serious leg injuries after being unintentionally hit by a vehicle driven by Mr. Nivert.
Ms. Mason underwent multiple surgeries and was hospitalized and in a rehabilitation facility for more than a month.
In November 2020, Ms. Mason filed a lawsuit against Midsouth and Mr. Nivert, but the company argued it was immune from suit because of workers comp exclusive remedy.
Ms. Mason argued that she believed she was an employee of PeopleReady, the temp agency, and that she was an independent contractor of Midsouth.
A trial court denied a defense motion for summary judgment in August 2022, but the state Supreme Court on appeal last week ruled summary judgment was appropriate because Ms. Mason was a “special employee” of Midsouth who was entitled to comp benefits and the suit should have been barred.