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Falzo v. Barilla

A-224-01T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

WORKERS COMPENSATION; JOINT EMPLOYER—Where an individual provides the same services for two intertwined companies, they are a “joint employer,” both liable under workers compensation laws and both protected by the workers compensation bar.

An off-duty police officer was injured while performing traffic control for a construction company and a related company. He sued both companies. The lower court concluded that the officer was in the employ of both companies and granted summary judgment in favor of the construction companies based on a statute that prohibits an employee from suing an employer when worker’s compensation benefits are available. The case was then transferred to the Worker’s Compensation Court. On appeal, the police officer claimed that since he was technically employed by, and paid by, one of the two construction companies, he should not be barred from suing the other. The Appellate Division affirmed. It held that the two construction companies were the police officer’s joint employer. The record demonstrated that the activities of the two companies were intertwined and that the police officer performed the same function, traffic control, for both companies. The companies were related entities with common ownership and exercised joint control over the construction project. Therefore, the police officer’s injuries needed to be addressed as part of a worker’s compensation claim.

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