Workers' Compensation Act, § 25-5-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975; Exclusivity Provisions

Ex parte Ultratec Special Effects, Inc., [Ms. 1180180, 1180183, Nov. 8, 2019] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2019). In this plurality opinion, the Court (Bolin, J.; and Parker, C.J., concur; Mendheim and Stewart, JJ., concur in the result; Shaw, Bryan, and Sellers, JJ., dissent; and Wise and Mitchell, JJ., recuse themselves) considers two petitions for writs of mandamus asking the Court to direct the Madison Circuit Court to vacate an order denying motions for summary judgment in a wrongful death case upon the claim that the petitioner was immune to suit because of the exclusivity provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act, § 25-5-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975. The Court initially denied the petitions without an opinion. However, upon application for rehearing, the Court entered an order in each case granting the application to consider whether petitioner was entitled to immunity under the Act. Upon consolidation of the petitions for the purpose of issuing one opinion, the Court rejects the petitioner's contentions that (1) it is immune as a "single employer group" within the meaning of § 25-5-1(4), Ala. Code 1975 (Ms. **9-17); (2) that petitioner is an "employer" as defined in § 25-5-1(4) (Ms. **17-18); (3) petitioner was entitled to immunity as a "joint employer" (Ms. **19-21); (4) that it was immune because it operated as a "division" of the decedent's employer (Ms. **21-26); and (5) that public policy favored application of the Act's immunity provisions to parent corporations for workplace injuries or deaths of employees of a parent corporation's subsidiary (Ms. **26-27). Rejecting each of these arguments, the petitions were due to be denied.

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