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Searway v. Rainey
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MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT					Reporter of Decisions
Decision:	1998 ME 86
Docket:	Pen-97-481
Submitted
on Briefs:	January 22, 1998
Decided:	April 29, 1998

Panel:WATHEN, C.J., and ROBERTS, RUDMAN, DANA, LIPEZ, and SAUFLEY, JJ.





DANIEL M. SEARWAY, SR. v. CHARLES M. RAINEY

ROBERTS, J.

	[¶1]  Daniel M. Searway, Sr., appeals from the judgment entered in
the Superior Court (Penobscot County, Mead, J.) affirming the grant of a
summary judgment by the District Court (Bangor, Russell, J.) in favor of
Charles M. Rainey on Searway's complaint for assault and battery.  Searway
contends that, even though his injury occurred in the course of and arose
out of his employment, his claim is not barred by the exclusivity and
immunity provisions of the Maine Workers' Compensation Act because he
was injured as a result of the intentional act of his employer.  We affirm the
judgment.  
	[¶2]  Searway was assaulted by his employer, Rainey, on the job site
during an argument concerning back pay.  Searway filed a civil action against
Rainey in the District Court alleging both physical and emotional damages, as
well as loss of earnings.  He did not file a claim for workers' compensation. 
The District Court, finding that the claims were barred by the exclusivity
and immunity provisions of the Act, 39-A M.R.S.A. §§ 104 and 408 (Supp.
1997),{1} granted Rainey's motion for a summary judgment.  On appeal, the
Superior Court affirmed the judgment of the District Court.  
	[¶3]  As we made clear in Li v. C.N. Brown Co., 645 A.2d 606 (Me.
1994), even intentional torts fall within the exclusivity and immunity
provisions of the Act.  In Li we addressed squarely the contention that
employers should not be protected by the exclusivity and immunity
provisions of the Act, but rather should "be held liable for work-related
injuries to employees caused by [the employer's] intentional acts."  Id. at
607.  We concluded, "Although narrow intentional tort exceptions to
workers' compensation coverage exist in a number of jurisdictions, those
exceptions frequently have been created by statutory change, or are based on
'accidental injury' language in workers' compensation statutes.[{2}]  The
creation of such an exception in this state is best left to the legislature."  Id.
at 608 (citations omitted).  
	[¶4]  Workers' compensation law is uniquely statutory.  Beaulieu v.
Maine Medical Center, 675 A.2d 110, 112 (Me. 1996).  We have declined on
several occasions the invitation to graft common law rules onto that statutory
scheme to effect social policy.  See, e.g., Fanion v. McNeal, 577 A.2d 2 (Me.
1990) (refusing to provide compensation beyond that available under the Act
to illegally employed minors who were victims of work-related injuries{3});
American Mut. Ins. Cos. v. Murray, 420 A.2d 251 (Me. 1980) (refusing to
judicially create a pay-back provision whereby an insurer could recover
benefits improperly paid to an employee who subsequently was determined
not to be eligible for those benefits{4}).  Having created the statutory scheme,
the Legislature is "better equipped to determine the impact of its actions,"
if it chooses to alter the immunity and exclusivity provisions of the Act. 
Beaulieu, 675 A.2d at 112 (citing American Mut. Ins. Cos., 420 A.2d at 252). 
Accordingly, we decline to create a judicial exemption to the exclusivity and
immunity sections of the Act.  
	The entry is:  
				Judgment affirmed.

Attorney for plaintiff: Marvin H. Glazier, Esq. Vafiades, Brountas, & Kominsky P O Box 919 Bangor, ME 04402-0919 Attorney for defendant: Elizabeth J. Wyman, Esq. Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau & Pachios, LLC P O Box 11410 Portland, ME 04104-7410
FOOTNOTES******************************** {1}. 39-A M.R.S.A. § 104 (Supp. 1997) provides in relevant part: An employer who has secured the payment of compensation in conformity with sections 401 to 407 is exempt from civil actions, either at common law or under sections 901 to 908; Title 14, sections 8101 to 8118; and Title 18-A, section 2-804, involving personal injuries sustained by an employee arising out of and in the course of employment, or for death resulting from those injuries. 39-A M.R.S.A. § 408 (Supp. 1997) provides in relevant part: Except as provided in subsection 2 [concerning illegally employed minors], an employee of an employer who has secured the payment of compensation as provided in sections 401 to 407 is deemed to have waived the employee's right of action at common law and under section 104 to recover damages for the injuries sustained by the employee. {2}. The Maine Workers' Compensation Act does not require that injuries be accidental to fall within its coverage. See P.L. 1973, ch. 389 (Legislature deleted the words "by accident" from statute). {3}. The Legislature amended the Act to remove the exemption with respect to illegally employed minors. See P.L. 1991, ch. 885, § A-8, codified at 39-A M.R.S.A. §§ 104, 408(2) (Supp. 1997). {4}. The Legislature amended the Act to enable employers and insurers in certain instances to recover from employees payments to which the employees were not entitled. See P.L. 1991, ch. 885, § A-8, codified at 39-A M.R.S.A. § 324(1) (Supp. 1997).