Michigan Supreme Court reverses lower court; summarily dismisses injury claim by amputee against employer who failed to install saw guard
Colby Smith lost a hand operating a Whirlwind jump saw at Michigan Pallet. He sued the company and two employee supervisors, arguing that they were not protected by the "exclusive remedy" provision of the workers compensation act because their intentional refusal to guard the saw created a statistical certainty that someone would be injured. The Court of Appeals agreed with Smith's experts and held that the conduct of the employer in failing to install and maintain the MIOSHA-required guard created circumstances that fell outside the "exclusive remedy" protection granted employers under workers compensation law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding in a one paragraph opinion that Smith's proofs were not adequate to show that the defendants had "a specific intent to injure" him. The proof must show that "an injury was certain to occur" and "willfully disregard" that knowledge.