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Court Case Update, Maryland—December 2023 

11 Dec, 2023 NCCI

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On November 30, 2023, the Appellate Court of Maryland, in Ledford v. Jenway Contracting, Inc., held for the first time that workers compensation (WC) exclusive remedy bars a wrongful death lawsuit brought by an employee's nondependent child. 

In this case, an employee suffered fatal injuries while in the course and scope of employment. The employee's adult and nondependent child brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer. The employer moved to dismiss, arguing that the lawsuit was barred by exclusive remedy, but the plaintiff countered that exclusive remedy did not apply because as a non-dependent child she was not entitled to WC benefits.  

The court analyzed the exclusive remedy provision—codified in Maryland statute 9-509— together with prior court decisions and concluded that the employer's liability for the employee's death was exclusively within workers compensation, regardless of whether the wrongful death nondependent plaintiff was entitled to WC benefits. The court further noted that although prior decisions have never expressly held that exclusive remedy applies to non-dependents, courts in Maryland have unwaveringly held that absent the two statutory exceptions to exclusive remedy—none of which were applicable in this case—an employer's liability under the Workers' Compensation Act is exclusive whenever an employee is injured or killed during the course of employment, even in situations in which a wrongful death plaintiff may have been precluded from recovering WC benefits. The court further held that extinguishing the nondependent child's right to bring a wrongful death action did not offend the Maryland Declaration of Rights because the legislature can place restrictions on a litigant's right to maintain an action in court.  

With this decision, the court affirmed the prior dismissal of the employee's nondependent child wrongful death lawsuit against the employer. 

For more information on other cases monitored by NCCI’s Legal Division, visit previous Court Case Updates and Court Case Insights under the Legal section [link.mediaoutreach.meltwater.com] of INSIGHTS on http://ncci.com.


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