In Tierney v. Arrowhead Concrete Works, Inc., 791 N.W.2d 540 (Minn. Ct. App. 2010), review denied (Feb. 15, 2011), Deborah Eckland and Scott Johnson represented Defendant J.L. Carlson in a claim brought against it by the widow of J.L. Carlson’s deceased employee.
Mr. Ficken was a truck driver for J.L. Carlson and was killed when the tractor-trailer he was operating overturned. The Ficken family applied for and received workers' compensation benefits. They then brought a wrongful death lawsuit against J.L. Carlson claiming violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act.
J.L. Carlson moved to dismiss the claim on the basis that Minnesota workers' compensation provides the exclusive remedy in a situation such as this, and the federal act does not preempt workers' compensation or otherwise provide a sustainable cause of action. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment in J.L. Carlson’s favor.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed. As a matter of first impression in Minnesota, the court found the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act does not create a private cause of action for personal injury or death. The court held the Workers' Compensation Act provides the exclusive remedy.
To learn more about this case, you can read the Court of Appeals decision.