Nichols v Jacobsen Construction Co., Inc.

Nichols was injured while unloading scaffolding at a building project. He field a workers compensation claim with his employer and sued Jacobsen, the general contractor for the building project, for negligence. The district court granted Jacobsen summary judgment based on the exclusive remedy provision in Utah Code 34A-2-103(7)(f)(iii)(B). The Court of Appeals held there was an issue of material fact about whether Jacobsen secured payment of workers compensation benefits and reversed. The Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and reinstated judgment for Jacobsen. The Court agreed with the district court and Court of Appeals that Jacobsen procured work under the plain meaning of the term “work” as it procured scaffolding services, including unloading and assembly form Nichols employer and those services involved mental and physical exertions by Nichols and other employees. It held the work was part of the process of Jacobsen’s business as it was part of construction project. The Court reversed the Court of Appeals on whether Jacobsen secured payment because the operative statutory provision only requires purchasing insurance and here workers compensation insurance was purchased and Nichols’ employer joined the policy. The Court rejected Nichols claim that Jacobsen had to actually pay benefits form the start of his claim process as inconsistent with stator text. Exercising its discretion, the Court also analyzed the third requirement for immunity, an accident and injury reduction program, as it was actually decided by the district court and raised in the court of appeals and fully briefed before the Court,. The Court affirmed the district court’s finding that Jacobsen satisfied the requirement by having Nichols’ employer join Jacobsen’s insurance program which included a qualifying safety plan adopted by reference in the enrollment form, the employer provided work on site and Jacobsen retained overall control of the project.