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Oakwood Hebrew Cemetery Association v. Spurlock

1992 WL 441851 (1992)

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Oakwood Hebrew Cemetery Association v. Spurlock

Virginia Court of Appeals

1992 WL 441851 (1992)

Facts

The Oakwood Hebrew Cemetery Association (the association) (defendant) was a corporation that operated the Oakwood Cemetery. The association had four executive officers. However, the association did not have any regular employees because the association contracted with other entities to perform the services offered by the association, such as grave opening and cemetery maintenance. Chester Lineberry (defendant) contracted with the association to perform the maintenance work for the cemetery grounds. Lineberry employed Massie Charles Spurlock (plaintiff) and sent Spurlock to mow the grass and maintain the gravesites at Oakwood Cemetery every Friday. Lineberry and Spurlock were also regular, full-time maintenance employees of another cemetery, and other cemeteries also regularly employed maintenance workers to mow and maintain their grounds. As Spurlock was mowing at Oakwood Cemetery one Friday, his foot slipped under the lawnmower, and he lost four toes. Spurlock sought workers’-compensation benefits from Lineberry and the association, but the deputy commissioner dismissed Spurlock’s claim. The commissioner noted that Virginia’s workers’-compensation statute did not apply to entities that regularly employed fewer than three employees and concluded that neither Lineberry nor the association had enough employees to be held liable under the statute. The workers’-compensation commission affirmed the deputy commissioner’s decision regarding Lineberry but reversed the decision regarding the association. The commission held that the association’s four executive officers were employees and further held that the association was considered Spurlock’s statutory employer because the association engaged Lineberry as a subcontractor to perform work that was part of the association’s business. The commission thus concluded that the association was liable to Spurlock for workers’-compensation benefits. The association appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Coleman, J.)

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