Eric Frye and TJ Cook, partners in the firm’s Charleston, West Virginia office, recently achieved a dismissal of a suit for an insurance carrier client. Plaintiff in the matter filed a workers’ compensation claim against his employer and following its denial, filed suit in the Southern District of West Virginia challenging the constitutionality of the workers’ compensation system and seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction to preclude the insurance carrier from administering workers’ compensation claims for its insureds.
Plaintiff argued that his constitutional rights to due process were violated because the first layer of determination rests with the insurance company, an entity that the Plaintiff argued had a financial interest in the outcome. Plaintiff cited to the Caperton decision to argue that a person cannot be the judge in his own case and further argued that the manner in which the system is constructed, it effectively “shuts the courthouse door” to all injured workers in West Virginia.
In their brief, Attorneys Frye and Cook argued that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and that the action was not yet ripe for adjudication. Second, they argued that the Workers’ Compensation system satisfies Constitutional Due Process requirements as it is drafted. Lastly, they argued that the Plaintiff’s Motion would upend the Workers’ Compensation system and that the request for ultimate relief was ill-defined and relief that this Court cannot grant here.
The Court agreed and granted a dismissal for our insurance client. The Court held that the Plaintiff had not exhausted his “administrative remedies” since the Insurance Commissioner and the Workers’ Compensation Board of Review were not parties to the suit. The Court specifically held that “Whatever flaws there may be in the workers’ compensation system, the public relies on access to that system with clearly established processes for pursuing claims. The Court will not throw that system into question with an ill-defined injunction.”
A copy of the Memorandum Opinion and Order is attached.