Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission that Appellant was not entitled to a wage-loss award in addition to his impairment rating because Area Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas (AAA) extended to him a bona fide offer of employment, holding that substantial evidence did not support the Commission's decision.Appellant was driving an AAA van that overturned, injuring Appellant. An ALJ determined that Appellant was entitled to a sixty percent wage-loss award and that Appellees made no bona fide job offer of employment because the position and wages were not clear. The Commission reversed, concluding that any wage-loss award was precluded because AAA made a bona fide and reasonable obtainable job offer. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that AAA did not meet its burden to prove that Appellant was offered employment at wages equal to or greater than his average weekly wage at the time of the accident. View "Calhoun v. Area Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a petition for a writ of prohibition filed by Petitioners - Respondent's employer, its corporate parent, and a fellow employee - asking the court to dismiss Respondent's declaratory judgment action because declaratory judgment would be improper on the facts, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to hear this petition.Respondent was injured in a workplace accident and received workers' compensation benefits because of his injuries. Respondent brought this declaratory judgment action, arguing that the petition was necessary to establish the legal relations between the parties. Petitioners filed this petition for writ of prohibition arguing that the Workers' Compensation Commission held exclusive jurisdiction for any claims Respondent had against his employers. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that Respondent's remedies against his employer were those outlined under the Workers' Compensation Act. View "Esterline Technologies Corp. v. Brownlee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment to Professional Background Screening Association, Inc. (PBSA) on PBSA's claim pursuant to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and partial summary judgment to Jennifer Jones, the Clerk of the District Court of Benton County, Arkansas, Bentonville Division, holding that the circuit court did not err.PBSA, a nonprofit trade association, filed a complaint against Jones alleging that Jones erred in applying Arkansas Supreme Court Administrative Order Number 19 to PBSA members who request court records to perform background checks in a manner that violated their right to access court records and, instead, PBSA members' requests for court records are governed by the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. The circuit court granted partial summary judgment in favor of PBSA on its FOIA claim and granted Jones's motion for summary judgment on PBSA's claims alleging that Order 19, as applied by Jones, violated PBSA members' right to access court records under the First Amendment and/or federal common law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err. View "Jones v. Professional Background Screening Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting class certification of Plaintiffs' complaint, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class.Plaintiffs were hourly employees of Koppers, Inc. Plaintiffs filed this action against Koppers alleging that Koppers did not pay them for working overtime in violation of the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA), Ark. Code Ann. 11-4-211(a). Plaintiffs filed a motion to certify a class. The circuit court granted the motion. Koppers appealed, arguing that its liability could not be established on a classwide basis because whether a plaintiff could recover depended on individualized facts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court's findings on commonality, predominance, and superiority were not in error. View "Koppers, Inc. v. Trotter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellant's action against Baptist Health appellees and John Hearnsberger, M.D., holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in denying Appellant's motions to compel production of two types of disputed discovery.Appellant, a surgeon, was on the medical staff of Baptist Health from 2003 until 2011, when his appointment and clinic privileges at Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock were terminated, effective immediately. Baptist Health also reported the suspension of Appellant's clinical privileges to the Arkansas State Medical Board, which, in 2014, revoked Appellant's license. Appellant appealed the revocation, and his license was reinstated. In 2011, Appellant filed a lawsuit against Baptist Health and several individuals, asserting several claims. The circuit court entered a consent order dismissing the Medical Board and Dr. Hearnsberger in his official capacity. The circuit court then granted summary judgment on Appellant's remaining claims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in denying Appellant's motions to compel production of two types of discovery, and the discovery error was not harmless as to Appellant's discrimination and tortious-interference claims. View "Williams v. Baptist Health" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the vacated the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission affirming and adopting the findings of the administrative law judge (ALJ) awarding an additional-benefits claim to Bruce Menser, holding that Menser's additional-benefits claim was time barred by the statute of limitations.At the time Menser requested a hearing before the Commission, he was receiving workers' compensation benefits. The ALJ found that Menser sustained compensable brain and neuropathy injuries during the course and scope of his employment and that the statute of limitations did not bar Menser's claim for additional medical benefits because it had been tolled. The Commission affirmed and adopted the ALJ's decision. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commission erred in determining that Menser's claim for additional medical benefits sufficiently tolled the statute of limitations, and to the extent that Arkansas case law does not comport with this holding, those cases are overruled. View "White County Judge v. Menser" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission concluding that parent companies of a direct employer are immune from tort liability under the exclusive remedy statute, Ark. Code Ann. 11-9-105(a), holding that the Commission's decision was supported by substantial evidence.Plaintiff filed a wrongful death suit against the parent companies of her deceased husband's employer. The Commission concluded that the parent companies were statutory employers as principals and stockholders of the direct employer under section 11-9-105(a). The Commissioner further held that the parent companies' statutory entitlement to immunity was consistent with Ark. Const. art. V, 32. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that article 5, section 32 permits workers' compensation laws to extend only to "actual" employers. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission's finding that the parent companies were immune under the exclusive remedy provision was supported by substantial evidence in the record; and (2) section 11-9-105(a) is constitutional because the parent companies had an employment relationship with Plaintiff's deceased husband. View "Meyers v. Yamato Kogyo Co." on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying BHC Pinnacle Point Hospital, LLC's motion to compel arbitration of a class action complaint filed by Employees, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, holding that Employees' claims fell within the scope of their voluntary arbitration agreements with Pinnacle Pointe.In their complaint, Employees alleged that Pinnacle Point violated the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA), Ark. Code Ann. 11-4-201 et seq. Pinnacle Point filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and compel arbitration, asserting that Employees' claims fell within the scope of their respective alternative resolution for conflicts agreements they executed with Pinnacle Pointe. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred as a matter of law in denying Pinnacle Pointe's motion to compel arbitration. View "BHC Pinnacle Pointe Hospital, LLC v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the circuit court's order granting a motion to dismiss filed by the Arkansas Governor and Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission Deputy Director and dismissing Plaintiff's claims pursuant to the Arkansas Whistle-Blower Act, Ark. Code Ann. 21-1-601 et seq., as well as the state and federal constitutions, holding that sovereign immunity barred Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in their official capacities but was no defense to Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in their individual capacities.In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that he was terminated because he refused to violate state policy. The circuit court dismissed all claims against Defendants solely on the basis of sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) sovereign immunity precluded Plaintiff's official capacity claims; but (2) the circuit court erred when it found that sovereign immunity barred Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in their individual capacities. View "Harris v. Hutchison" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiff's action against the University of Arkansas, the Trustees of the University of Arkansas, and several individuals, both in their individual and official capacities, holding that the circuit court properly dismissed Plaintiff's claims.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err by requiring Plaintiff to pay for counsel of the representatives of a class of students implicated in his 2015 Arkansas Freedom of Information Act data request; (2) did not err by dismissing Plaintiff's claims for monetary relief against the official-capacity defendants based on sovereign immunity; (3) did not err by dismissing individual-capacity claims against two individuals; (4) did not err in finding that Plaintiff's individual capacity claims under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act failed to state claims for which relief could be granted; and (5) properly dismissed Plaintiff's tortious interference with a contract claim and civil conspiracy claim. Finally, the Court held that the University did not waive its sovereign immunity on a claim under the Arkansas Whistle-Blower Act. View "Steinbuch v. University of Arkansas" on Justia Law