The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently reiterated prior holdings that the North Carolina industrial commission has exclusive jurisdiction to hear bad faith claims involving workers' compensation insurance. Bowden v. Young, 2105 WL 659740 (N.C. App. Feb. 17, 2015)
The claimant suffered injuries while performing his duties as a manager of a fast food restaurant. While his workers' compensation claim was pending, he brought a bad faith lawsuit against the workers' compensation carrier, claiming that the carrier engaged in intentionally wrongful conduct while handling his claim, including contacting his physicians without his permission and seeking medical advice from a biased expert. The carrier moved to dismiss claimant's lawsuit on the ground that the North Carolina Industrial Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over work-related injuries, including ancillary claims such as insurance disputes. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, and the carrier appealed
Reversing, the North Carolina Court of Appeals noted that it previously held that claims for bad faith in the handling of a workers' compensation claim lie exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Industrial Commission. Because all of claimant's allegations were related to the handling of his workers' compensation claim, the appellate court found that the trial court should have dismissed the complaint in its entirety.