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Temporary employee's injuries covered under Workers' Compensation Act

The Salvation Army contracted with an employment agency for a temporary employee. The temporary employee was injured in an automobile accident and then sued both the Salvation Army and the employment agency, but on different grounds. The temporary employee sued the Salvation Army on the basis of negligence and wantonness (tort claims), but sued the employment agency under the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act.

In the Etowah County Circuit Court, the Salvation Army moved for summary judgment, asserting that it was a special employer under the Workers' Compensation Act and therefore the only remedy for the temporary employee was under the Workers' Compensation Act.

Under previous decisions of the Alabama Supreme Court, an employer is a special employer under the act if the following conditions are met:

  • There is an express or implied contract of hire with the special employer.
  • The work being done is for the special employer.
  • The special employer has the right to control the details about how the work is done.

The circuit court denied the motion for summary judgment. There was no dispute about whether the employment agency was the general employer of the temporary employee. The Salvation Army appealed this decision to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. The appeals court reversed the circuit court, finding that there was an implied contract of hire between the temporary employee and the Salvation Army. Therefore, the exclusive-remedy provisions of the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act applied to the case, and the Salvation Army could not be sued for negligence and wantonness. See Ex Parte Salvation Army, decided on February 18, 2011.

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