Submitted: April 23, 2015
Kyle Kemmer, Esquire, Shelsby & Leoni, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Plaintiff.
Mary E. Sherlock, Esquire, Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby LLP, Attorney for Defendant MBM Construction II, LLC.
Louis J. Rizzo, Esquire, Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP, Attorney for Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff Saez and Son's LLC.
Gerald J. Hager, Esquire, Margolis Edelstein, Attorney for Third Party Defendant Genna Contracting, Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Jaime Maravilla-Diego ("Maravilla-Diego"), suffered a work-place injury while employed by Defendant, Saez & Son's, LLC ("Saez & Son"). Saez & Son did not carry workers' compensation insurance. Under 19 Del. C. § 2374(e), Maravilla-Diego therefore had a choice between two avenues of relief: compensation under the workers' compensation framework, or a claim for damages at law. Initially, Maravilla-Diego filed a Petition to Determine Compensation Due with the Industrial Accident Board ("IAB"). But he subsequently withdrew that Petition and filed a negligence suit against Saez & Son and other third parties. While the negligence claims were pending, Maravilla-Diego again attempted to pursue compensation through a number of IAB filings. Ultimately, the IAB found that his efforts were time-barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Saez & Son now seeks summary judgment on the negligence claims. They say that the IAB's final finding precludes Maravilla-Diego's negligence claim under the election of remedies doctrine. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds Maravilla-Diego elected a remedy under the workers' compensation framework and is therefore barred from pursuing damages at law. Saez & Son's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.
II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Maravilla-Diego was injured at work on March 21, 2012. He was installing apartment siding and fell 40 feet to the ground from a bucket lift, sustaining multiple injuries. He subsequently instituted proceedings both before the IAB and this Court to recover for his injuries.
A. IAB Proceedings
Maravilla-Diego first filed a Petition to Determine Compensation Due ("First Petition") on January 29, 2013 before the IAB seeking compensation from Saez & Son for his injuries.
The IAB held a hearing on June 26, 2013 to determine the nature of the employment relationship between Maravilla-Diego and Saez & Son. The Board issued a written decision on July 10, 2013 finding that Maravilla-Diego was Saez & Son's employee, not an independent contractor. The Board also awarded Maravilla-Diego attorney's fees.
In December, 2013, Maravilla-Diego inexplicably withdrew the First Petition.
Yet, beginning in early April, 2014, Maravilla-Diego resumed filing applications before the IAB. He first requested that the IAB order Saez & Son to post a $100, 000 bond to cover certain medical expenses. The IAB denied that request on April 15, 2014 because Maravilla-Diego had no Petition pending before it at that time. In its Order denying Maravilla-Diego's bond request, the IAB acknowledged that Saez & Son did not maintain workers' compensation insurance. The IAB further noted that Maravilla-Diego was past the two-year statute of limitations on his workers' compensation claim.
Despite the IAB's finding, on April 16, 2014, Maravilla-Diego filed a Second Petition to Determine Compensation Due ("Second Petition") for the same injury. On May 6, 2014, he also appealed the IAB's decision denying the requested bond order. This Court has ...