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Smothers v. Gresham Transfer, Inc.
Oregon Supreme Court
332 Or. 83, 23 P.3d 333 (2001)
Terry Smothers (plaintiff) worked as a technician for trucking company Gresham Transfer, Inc. (Gresham) (defendant). During Smothers’s employment, he was exposed to mist and fumes from the acidic solution used to clean the trucks. Smothers became ill and ultimately stopped working for Gresham. Smothers sought workers’-compensation benefits, but Gresham’s workers’-compensation insurer denied Smothers’s claim. The Workers’ Compensation Board upheld the denial of benefits after finding that the exposure to the acidic mist and fumes was not a major contributing cause of Smothers’s illness. Smothers then brought a negligence action against Gresham in Oregon state court. The trial court dismissed Smothers’s complaint, concluding that Oregon’s workers’-compensation statute provides the exclusive remedy for a work-related injury, even if the worker’s claim is determined to be noncompensable. The appeals court affirmed, and Smothers appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court, arguing that he had been denied a remedy for his injury in violation of the Oregon constitution’s remedy clause, which guarantees the existence of a remedy for injuries to person, property, or reputation.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Leeson, J.)
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