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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today

In Jason Young v. Hood's Gardens, Inc., a 6-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:

When a person engages a contractor for the performance of work exceeding $1,000 in value but fails to take certain steps to assure that the contractor complies with the Indiana Worker's Compensation Act, that person is secondarily liable to the same extent as the contractor for worker's compensation benefits payable to an employee of the contractor injured in an accident arising out of and in the course of the contracted-for work. This case presents an issue of first impression: whether the predicate $1,000 in value is determined solely by the amount of money paid to the contractor or also includes the value of other consideration received by the contractor in connection with the services provided. We hold that the $1,000 monetary threshold may include the ascertainable value of ancillary consideration received by the contractor. * * *

To prevail on its motion for summary judgment, the business must establish that the tree removal work for which it hired the contractor had a value of $1,000 or less and that this fact was free of factual dispute. Under the applicable statute, the value of this work is to be determined by considering both the monetary payment and ancillary consideration received by the contractor, namely the $600 contract price and the value of the wood received. As the moving party, the business failed to designate evidence establishing that the undisputed value of the ancillary con-sideration (the wood received) plus the $600 monetary payment did not exceed $1,000. Furthermore, the plaintiff designated testimony by the contractor that the value of the wood received was more than the $600 received. The business was not entitled to summary judgment.

Conclusion. We conclude that the "value" attributable to the performance of work that triggers secondary liability under Indiana Code section 22-3-2-14(b) includes both direct monetary payment as well as any ancillary consideration received for the work. Finding a question of fact as to the value of the wood received by the contractor Discount Tree Extraction in connection with the performance of its work, we reverse the grant of summary judgment to the business, Hood's Gardens, and remand for further proceedings.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 22, 2015 12:03 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions