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Brenner v. All Steel Carports, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 18, 2019

Lora Brenner and Shawn Brenner, Appellants-Plaintiffs,
v.
All Steel Carports, Inc., All Steel Carports and Buildings, LLC, Chavez Real Estate and Ignacio Chavez, Appellees-Defendants.

          Appeal from the Delaware Circuit Court The Honorable John M. Feick, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 18C04-1612-CC-985

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS David A. Anderson Todd C. Peabody Anderson & Associates, PC Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES Joseph P. Hunter Muncie, Indiana Storrs W. Downey Jeffrey E. Kehl Bryce Downey & Lenkov, LLC Chicago, Illinois

          RILEY, JUDGE.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         [¶1] Appellants-Plaintiffs, Lora and Shawn Brenner (collectively the Brenners), pursue this interlocutory appeal from the trial court's dismissal of their claims against Appellees-Defendants, Ignacio Chavez (Ignacio) and Chavez Real Estate.

         [¶2] We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         ISSUE

         [¶3] The Brenners present us with four issues on appeal, which we consolidate and restate as: Whether the trial court improperly dismissed their claims against Ignacio and Chavez Real Estate.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         [¶4] Lora was an employee of All Steel Carports, Inc., and All Steel Carports and Buildings, LLC, (collectively All Steel), whose business premises was located in Munice, Indiana. All Steel's business premises had been owned by Ignacio, but ownership of the real estate was transferred to Chavez Real Estate at some point prior to the instant litigation. Ignacio had been the president of All Steel Carports, Inc., since 2006 and of All Steel Carports and Buildings, LLC, since 2009. Lora was terminated from All Steel in July 2016.

         [¶5] On December 27, 2016, the Brenners filed a Complaint, which they amended once, against All Steel, Ignacio, and Chavez Real Estate, (collectively the Defendants), raising claims of negligence, gross negligence, wrongful termination, and loss of consortium based on their allegations that Lora had been exposed to contaminants during her employ with All Steel which had made her ill. The Defendants moved the trial court to dismiss the Amended Complaint, arguing that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because all of the Brenners' claims, apart from the wrongful termination claim, were barred by the Worker's Compensation Act (WCA). On September 27, 2017, the trial court granted the Defendants' motion to dismiss without entering findings of fact or conclusions of law.

         [¶6] On December 22, 2017, the Brenners filed their Second Amended Complaint against the Defendants in which they made the following relevant allegations:

3. [] Chavez Real Estate is a domestic Limited Liability Company. Said Defendant is the "owner" of the real estate in question.
4. [Ignacio, ] located at 2200 N. Granville Ave[.], Muncie, Indiana, 47303, was the "former owner" of said real estate.
6. [Lora] was an employee of [All Steel] in Muncie, Indiana (herein "the Employers").
7. [Shawn] is married to Lora [] and has been at all relevant times relating to this lawsuit.
8.While working for the Defendant Employers and while on the Defendant owners' property, [Lora] was exposed to extreme amounts of dust, ...

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