United States District Court, D. Arizona
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
J. MARKOVICH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
a premises liability and negligent training and supervision
action against Defendant American Airlines, Inc.
(“American Airlines” or “Defendant”)
and ten unnamed Defendants brought by Plaintiff Hemayeth
Karim. (Doc. 1-1 Ex. A at ¶¶ 33- 50). Pending
before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment. (Doc. 21). Defendant requests this Court to dismiss
the Complaint in its entirety because workers'
compensation is Plaintiff's exclusive remedy against
Defendant under Arizona law. Plaintiff filed a Response
opposing the motion and claims that because he was not an
employee of American Airlines, there is a genuine dispute of
material fact as to whether workers' compensation was his
exclusive avenue for recovery. (Doc. 28). Defendant filed a
Reply and argues that even if Plaintiff is not an employee of
American Airlines,  the Arizona statute still applies because
American Airlines provides workers' compensation coverage
for all of its wholly owned subsidiaries including Piedmont
Airlines, Inc. (Plaintiff's employer) and is
self-insured. (Doc. 32).
to the Rules of Practice of this Court, this matter was
referred to the undersigned for a Report and Recommendation.
(Doc. 8). The motion has been fully briefed, and the Court
heard oral argument from the parties on August 9, 2019. For
the reasons stated below, the Magistrate Judge recommends
that the District Court enter an ordering granting
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Hemayeth Karim was employed as a ramp agent for Piedmont
Airlines at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. (Doc. 23 at ¶ 1;
Doc. 29 at ¶ 1). Piedmont is a wholly owned subsidiary
of Defendant American Airlines. (Doc. 23 at ¶ 2; Doc. 29
at ¶ 2). Piedmont has its own staff, buildings,
aircraft, and gates at Sky Harbor, and Plaintiff receives
checks from, and monitors his employment-related documents
through, Piedmont. (Doc. 29 at ¶¶ 15-17; Doc. 30
Karim Decl. at ¶¶ 5-12).
about May 28, 2016, Plaintiff alleges that he was injured
when a 10, 000-pound Lektro Pushback Tug ran over him and
pinned him to the ground “for an extended period of
time with tarmac ground temperatures in excess of 125
degrees.” (Doc. 29 at ¶ 3). Plaintiff was acting
in the scope of his employment for Piedmont and receiving
on-the-job training on the tarmac at the time of this
incident and had previously received in-class training. (Doc.
23 at ¶ 4-5; Doc. 29 at ¶ 4-5). Plaintiff was
acting as the “wing-walker” during the training
while a fellow Piedmont employee, Hunter Landvatter, operated
the Tug. (Doc. 23 at ¶ 7; Doc. 29 at ¶ 7). Mr.
Landvatter lost control of the Tug while steering and
collided with Plaintiff. (Doc. 23 at ¶¶ 8-9; Doc.
29 at ¶¶ 8-9). After the incident Plaintiff
received workers' compensation benefits. (Doc. 23 at
¶ 12; Doc. 29 at ¶ 12).
originally sued Defendants in Maricopa County Superior Court
on May 29, 2018, but the case was removed to the Federal
District Court for the District of Arizona on October 5,
2018. (Doc. 1). Defendant American Airlines filed an Answer
to Plaintiff's Complaint on October 12, 2018 denying any
liability. (Doc. 6). Defendant then filed the present Motion
for Summary Judgment on March 1, 2019. (Doc. 21).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate when the “pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A material fact is one that
might affect the outcome of the case under governing law.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). In addition, a “genuine” issue means that
a reasonable jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party.
Id. Thus, “there is no issue for trial unless
there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for
a jury to return a verdict for that party.”
Id. at 249. The nonmoving party “may not rest
upon mere allegations or denials of [the moving party's]
pleadings, but . . . must set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).
evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court must make
all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Finally, “at
the summary judgment stage the judge's function is not
himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; see
also Musick v. Burke, 913 F.2d 1390, 1394 (9th Cir.
1990) (court may not make credibility determinations or weigh
constitution directs its legislature to enact a workers'
compensation law that requires employers to compensate
employees who are injured or die while acting in the scope of
their employment if those injuries or deaths are caused by
the employer's negligence. See ARIZ. CONST. art.
XVIII, § 8. Arizona's workers' compensation
statutory scheme, which codified the state constitutional
guarantees, provides in relevant part:
The right to recover compensation . . . for injuries
sustained by an employee or for the death of an employee is
the exclusive remedy against the employer or any
co-employee acting in the scope of his employment, and
against the employer's workers' compensation
insurance carrier or administrative service representative,
except as provided by § 23-906, and except that if the
injury is caused by the employer's wilful misconduct, or
in the case of a co-employee by the co-employee's wilful
misconduct, and the act causing the injury is the personal
act of the employer, or in the case of a co-employee the
personal act of the co-employee . . . and the act indicates a
wilful disregard of the life, limb or bodily safety of
employees, the injured employee may either claim compensation
or maintain an action at law for damages against the person
or entity alleged to have engaged in the wilful misconduct.
A.R.S. § 23-1022(A) (emphasis added). Therefore,
employers are not liable for negligence damages at common law
or by statute so long as they have adequately secured
workers' compensation, notified employees of the
existence of that compensation, and the damages were not a
result of willful misconduct. A.R.S. § 23-906(A).
However, an employee has the option to reject the
workers' compensation scheme and instead maintain his or
her right to sue the employer. Id. In order to
maintain this right, the employee must notify the employer of
the intention to do so prior to sustaining any injuries.
A.R.S. § 23-906(B)-(C). Any employee who does not notify
the employer is presumed to have chosen to take workers'
compensation. A.R.S. § 23-906(B). Furthermore, “an
employee . . . who accepts compensation ...