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CHARLOTTE WEST v. PLASTIFAX

APRIL 22, 1987

CHARLOTTE WEST
v.
PLASTIFAX, INC.



BEFORE WALKER, C.J., AND ROBERTSON AND ANDERSON, JJ.,

ANDERSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This appeal from the Circuit Court of Harrison County proceeds from dismissal of appellant's suit for loss of consortium due to injuries sustained by her husband in the course of his employment. The lower court held that the husband's injuries were compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act and that the exclusive remedy provisions therein barred any action by appellant for loss of consor tium. We are not persuaded by appellant that our statute holds otherwise and therefore affirm.

I.

 Jerry West, appellant's husband, was an employee of Plastifax, Inc. On June 2, 1982, while in the course and scope of his employment, West sustained serious and permanent personal injuries in an explosion at appellee's plant.

 Workers' compensation benefits were paid to West in the amount of $81,671.29. N. L. Industries, also a defendant, executed a settlement agreement whereby West would receive substantial compensation.

 On June 27, 1984, the appellant filed a complaint with the Circuit Court of Harrison County seeking damages for loss of consortium in the amount of five million dollars actual damages and ten million dollars punitive damages. Appellant alleged negligence by appellee and strict liability in the alternative.

 Appellee alleged in his answer that appellant's claim (1) failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, (2) was barred by the exclusive remedy provision

 under the Miss. Workers' Compensation Act, hereinafter MWCA, and (3) was barred by execution of the release agree ment. Appellee thereafter filed a motion to dismiss on basically the same grounds alleged in the complaint, along with a statute of limitations defense.

 After a hearing on the motion, the court held that the appellant's claims were barred and the exclusive remedy was pursuant to MWCA. The court in February 1985 made certain findings of facts and conclusions of law and sus tained the motion to dismiss with prejudice.

 II.

 Appellant's only contention here is that her entitle ment to loss of consortium damages, (provided for by MCA 93-3-1 (1972)), is not precluded by the exclusive remedy provision of the MWCA (MCA 71-3-9 (1972)).

 While this is a question of first impression in this state, it has been addressed numerous times in other jurisdictions. A large majority of our sister states have held that the workers' contract forecloses recovery for loss of consortium.

 MCA 93-3-1 provides in pertinent part:" A married woman shall have a cause of action for loss of consortium through negligent injury of her husband. "

 This law enacted in 1968, gave to women the statutory right to sue for loss of consortium, as had already been ...


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