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Estate of Belk v. Boise Cascade Wood Products, L.L.C.

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

February 5, 2019

THE ESTATE OF WILLIAM BELK, by and through TAQUITTA BELK, ADMINISTRATRIX, Plaintiff,
v.
BOISE CASCADE WOOD PRODUCTS, L.L.C., a member of BOISE CASCADE COMPANY, JOHN DOE 1 and JOHN DOE 2, Defendants.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 13 November 2018.

          Appeal by Defendant Boise Cascade Company from order entered 11 December 2017 by Judge David Thomas Lambeth, Jr., in Lee County, No. 16 CVS 285 Superior Court.

          Muller Law Firm, PLLC, by Tara Davidson Muller, and The Hunt Law Firm, by Anita B. Hunt and Ralph A. Hunt, Jr., for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Husch Blackwell, LLP, by William E. Corum, and Teague, Campbell, Dennis & Gorham, LLP, by Jennifer B. Milak, for Defendant-Appellant Boise Cascade Wood Products, L.L.C.

          DILLON, Judge.

          Defendant Boise Cascade Company ("Boise Cascade")[1] appeals from the trial court's order denying its motion for summary judgment. Boise Cascade contends that exclusive jurisdiction over this case belongs to the Industrial Commission, because Boise Cascade was a "special employer" of the deceased. After careful review, we reverse.

         I. Background

         Boise Cascade is a limited liability company which owns and operates a plywood manufacturing plant in Moncure. Boise Cascade entered into an Agreement for Temporary Services with a staffing company, Aerotek, Inc. ("Aerotek"), to provide temporary personnel for the plant. Pursuant to their Agreement for Temporary Services, Aerotek recruited William Belk as a candidate for a mechanic position in Boise Cascade's maintenance department.

         In August 2014, Mr. Belk began working at the Boise Cascade plant. On 26 September 2015, after working at the Boise Cascade plant for more than a year, Mr. Belk was killed in a workplace accident when a machine he was repairing collapsed.

         Mr. Belk's estate ("Plaintiff") brought a workers' compensation claim against Aerotek before the Industrial Commission and received an award of death benefits.

         In April 2016, Plaintiff instituted this civil action against Boise Cascade seeking damages for Mr. Belk's death. Boise Cascade then filed to dismiss, which was denied. Boise Cascade subsequently moved for summary judgment, which, after a hearing on the matter, was also denied.

         Boise Cascade appeals.

         II. Appellate Jurisdiction

         This appeal is interlocutory. Typically, "[t]he denial of a motion for summary judgment is an interlocutory order and is not appealable." Harris v. Walden, 314 N.C. 284, 286, 333 S.E.2d 254, 256 (1985). Nonetheless, "the denial of a motion concerning the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act affects a substantial right and thus is immediately appealable." Fagundes v. Ammons Dev. Grp., Inc., __ ...


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