Illinois Supreme Court Reverses Appellate Ruling and Holds That the Workers’ Compensation Act and Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act Bar Common-Law Mesothelioma Action
The Illinois Supreme Court, applying Illinois law, reversed the Illinois First District Appellate Court and held that an injured employee may not bring a direct common-law action against his employer for a mesothelioma claim because the claim was barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act and Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act and thus closed a gap of potential uninsured liability for employers. The Illinois Supreme Court disagreed with the appellate court’s holding that such a cause of action fell outside of the exclusive remedy provisions of the Acts because the claims were not otherwise “compensable” under the Acts due to their long-tail nature and the fact they were barred by the applicable statutes of repose in the Acts. This case is of particular interest to Illinois policyholders because had the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the appellate ruling, employers would have been subjected to long-tail claims that they most likely would not have had insurance coverage for due to standard employee exclusions and workers’ compensation exclusions in historical comprehensive general liability policies. Folta v. Ferro Eng’g, 2015 IL 118070 (Ill. Nov. 4, 2015).
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