In Luce v Kent Foundry Co
, No. 327978, the Court of Appeals dismissed a personal injury lawsuit brought under the intentional tort exception to the Workers Disability Compensation Act (WDCA). The Court held that the facts in Luce
did not meet the high standard required to satisfy the intentional tort exception to the exclusive remedy provision of the WDCA and affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition.
Plaintiff Andrew Luce worked on a machine called the wheelabrator while employed with Defendant Kent Foundry. The doorstops on one side of the machine regularly broke off and went missing, but until Plaintiff Luce’s injury, no one had been harmed by this malfunction. On August 17, 2012 Plaintiff Luce’s hand was caught between two parts of the machine causing it to be crushed and resulting in injury and the amputation of part of one finger. Plaintiff Luce filed suit against Defendant Kent Foundry alleging that he was entitled to damages under the intentional tort exception to the exclusive remedy provision of the WDCA. The trial court found that Defendant Kent Foundry did not intend to cause Plaintiff Luce’s injury and granted summary disposition in Defendant Kent Foundry’s favor.
The Court of Appeals considered the sole issue of whether Defendant Kent Foundry actually intended to cause Plaintiff Luce’s injury on appeal. To recover under the intentional tort exception to the WDCA, Plaintiff Luce had to prove with regards to the malfunctioning wheelabrator that (1) Defendant Kent Foundry had actual knowledge (2) that an injury was certain to occur, (3) and it disregarded that knowledge. The Court of Appeals held that Plaintiff Luce’s claim failed on the second step, i.e.
, that it was not certain that an injury would occur. The Court explained that awareness of a dangerous condition or knowledge that an accident is likely to occur does not meet the high standard of “certain to occur.” The Court also dismissed Plaintiff Luce’s alternative claim that a “continuously operative dangerous condition” formed a basis for a claim under the intentional tort exemption because Plaintiff Luce was aware of the dangerous condition.