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Frontz v. Middletown Enters., Inc.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

August 26, 2014

LOUISE FRONTZ, Guardian of the Person and Estate of Brian O'Neal Frontz, and BRIAN FRONTZ, Appellants-Plaintiffs,
v.
MIDDLETOWN ENTERPRISES, INC., d/b/a SINCLAIR GLASS, Appellee-Defendant

APPEAL FROM THE BLACKFORD SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable J. Nicholas Barry, Judge. Cause No. 05D01-1208-PL-238.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: JASON R. DELK, Delk McNally LLP, Muncie, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: THOMAS R. SCHULTZ, BRANDON M. KIMURA, Schultz & Pogue, LLP, Indianapolis, Indiana.

MAY, Judge. VAIDIK, C.J., and RILEY, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 667

MAY, Judge

Brian Frontz appeals summary judgment for Middletown Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Sinclair Glass (" Middletown" ), on Frontz's action to hold Middletown liable for his personal injuries. Frontz asserts the court erred in determining his lawsuit was prohibited by the exclusive remedy provision of the Indiana Worker's Compensation Act.[1] We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Frontz was an employee of Wimmer Temporaries, Inc. (" Wimmer" ), a professional employment agency that provides temporary workers to other businesses. Wimmer was responsible for compensating employees and maintaining worker's compensation insurance on the employees, while the other businesses agreed to pay Wimmer within ten days of an invoice and to not hire employees away from Wimmer within specified time frames.

On August 6, 2010, Wimmer assigned Frontz to Middletown. On August 11, while Frontz was performing services for Middletown in the Sinclair Glass factory, he was subjected to extreme heat in a confined space. Frontz was taken to a hospital where it was discovered that his body temperature was over 104 degrees. Doctors diagnosed him with severe heat stroke, resulting in multiple organ failure and permanent injuries.

Frontz filed a Worker's Compensation claim against both Wimmer and Middletown as his employers, and he also filed this lawsuit against both Wimmer and Middletown. In this lawsuit, Wimmer and Middletown both moved for summary judgment on the ground Worker's Compensation is an employee's exclusive remedy for on-the-job accidents. Frontz agreed to dismiss Wimmer from this action and asserted he intended to remove Middletown from his Worker's Compensation claim.

The court granted summary judgment for Middletown in an order that explained:

Page 668

[A]t the time that Brian Frontz was employed by Wimmer Temporaries, Inc. and placed by Wimmer Temporaries at Middletwon [sic] Enterprises, Inc. as a temporary employee, Frontz was " leased" by Wimmer to Middletown Enterprises. Therefore, the Court is finding that Wimmer Temporaries was the lessor and Middletown Enterprises the lessee which makes . . . both joint employers of Frontz. Based on the joint employment of the plaintiff, the Court is finding that the Indiana Worker's Compensation [Act] is the exclusive remedy of the employee Brian Frontz as the temporary/leased employed [sic] by Middletown Enterprises. ...

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