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Walls v. Markley Enterprises, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 11, 2018

Eshanya Walls, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
Markley Enterprises, Inc., Appellee-Defendant.

          Appeal from the Elkhart Superior Court The Honorable Stephen R. Bowers, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 20D02-1605-CT-105

          Attorneys for Appellant Robert J. Konopa Eric W. von Deck Elizabeth A. Klesmith Tuesley Hall Konopa LLP South Bend, Indiana

          Attorney for Appellee Kevin W. Kearney Hunt Suedhoff Kalamaros, LLP South Bend, Indiana

          PYLE, JUDGE.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Eshanya Walls ("Walls") filed a complaint against Markley Enterprises, Inc. ("Markley"), alleging that she was injured while working at Markley due to Markley's negligence. Markley filed a motion to dismiss under Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(1), [1] and the trial court dismissed Walls' complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that Walls' negligence claim was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of the Indiana Worker's Compensation Act ("the Act"). On appeal, Walls argues that the trial court erred in dismissing her complaint. Using the statutory definition of "employer" set forth in Indiana Code § 22-3-6-1(a), we conclude that Walls was an employee of both Markley and the temporary staffing agency that placed her with Markley, and that the trial court properly dismissed Walls' action under Trial Rule 12(B)(1) because her exclusive remedy rests with the Act.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Issues

         1.Whether the trial court erred in dismissing Walls' complaint for negligence against Markley for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         2.Whether terms of the agreement between the temporary staffing agency and Markley amounted to Markley's waiver of the exclusive remedy provision of the Act.

         Facts

         [¶3] Markley is a corporation which maintains an assembly plant in Elkhart County, Indiana. Bridge Staffing, Inc. ("Bridge") is a temporary staffing agency that "assign[s] employees to perform services for client companies, and provid[es] related management and human resource services." (App. Vol. 2 at 142). On August 20, 2004, Markley and Bridge entered into a Client Service Agreement ("Agreement"). Under the Agreement, Markley, as Bridge's client, indicated its desire that Bridge provide "services as may be necessary to meet [Markley's] staffing needs" (App. Vol. 2 at 142), and Bridge agreed to:

1. Provide [Markley] the employees and services as requested by [Markley] or [Markley's] assigned representatives.
2. Assume full responsibility for paying, withholding, and transmitting payroll taxes; making unemployment contributions; and handling unemployment and workers' compensation claims involving assigned employees with respect to compensation that [Bridge] has agreed to pay.
3. Recruit, interview, test, screen, and ensure compliance with legally required pre-employment obligations for all employees to be ...

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