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Truly “Intentional” Tort Needed to Overcome WDCA’s Exclusive Remedy Provision

Employment / June 22, 2020

MCL 418.131(1) requires a plaintiff to establish that the employer deliberately acted or failed to act “with the purpose of inflicting an injury upon the employee.” Patrick v Edmar, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued June 18, 2020 (Docket No. 348209), p 4. [W]hen there is no direct evidence of intent to injure, intent must be proved with circumstantial evidence.” Id. Secrest Wardle represented the Defendant in the trial court and on appeal.

To survive summary disposition, in the absence of direct evidence, there must be circumstantial evidence that the employer “had actual knowledge that an injury was certain to occur and willfully disregarded that knowledge.” Id.

“[T]he certainty inquiry requires more than just the existence of a hazard: the employer must know that this condition will cause an injury and yet refrain from informing the employee of the danger.” Patrick, unpub op at 5.

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