A federal appeals court has ruled that a Texas man injured in an oilfield in Oklahoma cannot sue outside of the exclusive remedy of workers’ comp, but the employer may still face a premises liability claim. According to a Business Insurance report, Jesus Martinez, an employee of Smith Contract Pumping Inc., was contracted by his employer to work on a pump jack at an oil well owned by Oklahoma City-based Angel Exploration L.L.C. when his hand was pulled into moving belts and his right thumb was severed. Martinez argued that the equipment was not properly protected by safety guards and sued Angel Exploration for intentional negligence as he was receiving comp benefits from Smith. The U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City granted summary judgment dismissing the intentional tort and premises liability claims, saying Oklahoma law states that “landowners owe no duty as to open and obvious dangers.” On appeal, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Tuesday voted unanimously to affirm the lower court’s dismissal of the intentional tort claim, but they stated that, “Oklahoma now recognizes an exception to the open and obvious doctrine where the landowner should have reasonably foreseen the harm,” and remanded the premises liability issue.
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