LOUISIANA – The plaintiff, Victor Michel, filed a lawsuit in state court in July 2017, alleging that his work as a mechanic exposed him to asbestos which caused him to develop peritoneal mesothelioma. The case was removed to federal court on May 8, 2018 and the plaintiff passed away five days later. The court substituted his survivors as the plaintiffs on July 10, 2018, and as of January 25, 2019, Ford Motor Co. was the only remaining defendant. On February 20, 2019, the court granted the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint, and on the same day, they did so. Ford filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ wrongful death claim as alleged in the amended complaint, and the plaintiffs opposed.

Relying on the plaintiffs’ allegations in the amended complaint that Ford was Michel’s employer, Ford argued that all of the plaintiffs’ wrongful death claims — for negligence, employer liability, premises liability, and products liability — were barred by the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act. Ford’s argument was valid only to the extent that Michel was Ford’s employee; if Michel was not Ford’s employee, the LWCA would not apply to his or the plaintiffs’ claims.

The court held that the plaintiffs alleged both employer and premises liability claims, and therefore, the plaintiffs may plead both claims even if they were inconsistent. However, the court deemed that the wrongful death claims against Ford as Michel’s employer should be dismissed with prejudice.

Read the case decision here.