United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
Latham was hired by Aerotek, Inc., which provides temporary
staffing services to companies in various industries. Aerotek
sent Latham to work at Weyerhaeuser Company's Easton,
Pennsylvania Facility, where Latham was struck by lumber that
fell off a forklift. He now brings this personal injury suit
against Weyerhaeuser and its employee, Phillip Rissmiller.
Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that
they are immune from suit under the Pennsylvania Workers'
Compensation Act. The Court, after reviewing the record and
holding a hearing, grants the Motion for the reasons that
September 21, 2009, Aerotek contracted with Weyerhaeuser to
provide temporary staffing services. (Weyerhaeuser-Aerotek
Agreement 2, ECF No. 27-8.)The Agreement between the
companies set forth the terms and conditions for those
services; namely, Aerotek maintained responsibility for
“all employment matters, ” including, inter
alia, daily check-ins, hiring, firing, discipline,
payroll processing, candidate interviews and other issues
raised by assigned personnel. (Id. at 11.) Moreover,
the Agreement defined Aerotek as the “sole Employer for
personnel” that would cover expenses related to
“payroll, insurance, benefits and associate
taxes.” (Id.) For its part, Weyerhaeuser would
control the “daily management and supervision of all
[Aerotek] assigned personnel.” (Id.)
August of 2017, Aerotek recruiter Zachary Long assigned
Latham to work as a groundskeeper at Weyerhaeuser's
Easton Facility. (Latham Dep. 13:4-11; 14:15-17, ECF No.
26-1.) Before starting, Latham met with Weyerhaeuser's
Site Operations Manager Derek Roche to discuss job-site
expectations, dress-code requirements and general protocol.
(Latham Dep. 14:4-9.)
Latham arrived at the Easton Facility for his first day of
work, he was trained by other Weyerhaeuser employees and
watched safety videos on Weyerhaeuser's computers.
(Latham Dep. 6:23-24; 19:7-20; 23:9-17.) At the beginning of
every shift, Roche assigned Latham tasks to complete.
(Id. at 18:5-16.) Mike Miller, a Weyerhaeuser
day-shift supervisor, reassigned Latham to other projects as
needed. (Id. at 20:5-10; Roche Dep. 94:10-13, ECF
No. 26-1.) Aerotek did not maintain an on-site supervisor to
oversee Latham. (Roche Dep. 94:19-22.) Before and after his
shifts, Latham clocked in and out of work. (Latham Dep.
33:10-18.) Roche verified the hours and input the data into a
website provided by Aerotek so that Aerotek could pay
temporary workers like Latham. (Roche Dep. at 36:6-14.)
Weyerhaeuser-Aerotek Agreement gave Aerotek the
responsibility to “provide necessary and adequate
personal protective equipment (“PPE”) for its
Agreement 6.) In actuality, however, Weyerhaeuser provided
Latham with tools such as lumber-wrapping equipment, a
chainsaw, a tape measure, a speed square and a two-way radio.
(Latham Dep. 26:9-28:19; Roche Dep. 96:13-18.) He also wore
protective clothing provided by Weyerhaeuser, including a
Weyerhaeuser-logoed red hard hat, hearing protection and a
safety vest. (Latham Dep. 35:14-36; 58:11-22; Roche Dep.
96:13-18.) Additionally, Weyerhaeuser furnished Latham with
funds to purchase steel-toed boots. (Latham Dep. 36:7-21;
Roche Dep. 96:13-18.) When Latham had any questions about the
equipment, he asked Miller. (Latham Dep. 30:20-31:2.)
August 28, 2017, while Latham was working a shift,
Weyerhaeuser employee Phillip Rissmiller was operating a
forklift carrying 48-foot-long pieces of lumber banded
together with plastic straps. (Compl. ¶¶ 13-14, ECF
No. 1; Am. Answer ¶¶ 13-14, ECF No. 19; Pl.'s
Resp. Defs.' Interrogs. 2, ECF No. 26-1.) The forklift
struck another piece of lumber, which caused the lumber on
the forklift to break free from its bands and hit Latham,
injuring his head, shoulder, back and knee. (Compl.
¶¶ 15-16; Am. Answer ¶¶ 15-16; Pl.'s
Resp. Defs.' Interrogs. 3.)
weeks after the accident, Roche sent an email to Jim
Tersigni, an Aerotek account manager, stating that Latham had
failed to follow “safe work place procedures several
times in the last two days, and he does not seem to be
responding to our coaching.” (October 10, 2017 Email,
ECF No. 27-9.) Roche asked Aerotek to make October 10, 2017
Latham's “last day.” (Id.) Tersigni
replied a few hours later: “I spoke with Tobias. He
knows not to return tomorrow.” (Id.)
2018, Latham filed a workers' compensation claim against
Aerotek for the injuries sustained in the August 28, 2017
incident. (Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' Interrogs. 7.) He later
settled the claim. (Id.) He subsequently filed this
lawsuit. Weyerhaeuser and Rissmiller now argue that, under
the borrowed servant doctrine, they are immune from suit
under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act
(“PWCA”). See (Defs.' Mem. Supp.
Mot. Summ. J. (“Defs.' Mem.”), ECF No. 26).
In the alternative, they contend that Latham contractually
waived any and all claims against them. (Id.)
Plaintiff opposed Defendants' Motion. (Pl.'s Resp.
Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.'s Resp.”), ECF
No. 27.) The Court heard oral argument on October 1, 2019.
(ECF No. 33.)
judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material
fact and if, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party, the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Smathers v. Multi-Tool,
Inc./Multi-Plastics, Inc. Emp. Health & Welfare
Plan, 298 F.3d 191, 194 (3d. Cir. 2002); see
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A genuine issue of material facts
exists where “a reasonable jury could return a verdict
for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A mere scintilla
of evidence in support of the non-moving party will not
suffice. Id. at 252. There must be evidence by which
a jury could reasonably find for the non-moving party.
reviewing the record, a court “must view the facts in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all
inferences in that party's favor.” Prowelv. Wise Bus. Forms, 579 F.3d 285, 286 (3d Cir. 2009)
(quoting Norfolk S. Ry. Co v. Basell USA Inc., 512
F.3d 86, 91 (3d Cir. 2008)). A court may not, however, make
credibility determinations or weigh the evidence in
considering motions for summary judgment. See Reeves v.