QUINDON D. THOMAS AND LATARA S.J. THOMAS
CHEVRON U.S.A., INC. AND DWAYNE HAISCH
OF JUDGMENT: 12/22/2015
FROM WHICH APPEALED: JACKSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON.
ROBERT P. KREBS, JUDGE
COURT ATTORNEYS: MATTHEW MESTAYER JIM REEVES PATRICK BUCHANAN
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: JAMES R. REEVES, JR. MATTHEW G.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: MICHAEL JAMES BENTLEY PATRICK R.
WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE
Quindon D. Thomas, an employee of a contractor at
Chevron's petroleum refinery plant in Pascagoula,
Mississippi, was injured on the job. Thomas accepted
workers' compensation benefits provided by Chevron for
his injuries. Thomas then sued Chevron and one of its
employees for the same injuries. Chevron asserted the
exclusive-remedy defense under the Mississippi Workers'
Compensation Act and the circuit court granted summary
judgment to Chevron. Thomas now appeals. We reverse and
remand for a trial on the merits.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The facts in this case are largely undisputed. Quindon D.
Thomas was injured while working at Chevron's petroleum
refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on October 13, 2012.
Thomas was employed with Bragg Investment Co., d/b/a American
Plant Services, Inc. (APS), as a maintenance worker for the
refinery. At the time of the injury, Thomas was working near
Dwayne Haisch, a Chevron employee, who opened a valve that
expelled hot steam, coke, and water onto Thomas, burning most
of his body.
Chevron had contracted with APS since 2004, to perform
maintenance and other specialized services at its refinery.
As part of this initial contract, Chevron required APS to
provide workers' compensation benefits for its employees.
In June 2010, Chevron and APS amended their contract to
acknowledge that Chevron would provide workers'
compensation insurance for all APS employees working at the
refinery through Chevron's Owner Controlled Insurance
Following the incident, Thomas immediately began receiving
workers' compensation benefits. Chevron paid $350, 000 to
Thomas, fully exhausting the policy's self-insured
retention. Following that, Indemnity Insurance began paying
wages and benefits pursuant to the workers' compensation
coverage under the OCIP. In addition to Chevron's
payment, Indemnity Insurance had paid Thomas $628, 734 in
workers' compensation benefits.
Thomas and his wife (hereafter collectively referred to as
"Thomas") sued Chevron and its employee, Dwayne
Haisch, in the Circuit Court of Jackson County for the
injuries Thomas sustained while working at Chevron's
refinery. The complaint asserted negligence and premises
liability claims against Chevron. In its reply, Chevron
raised affirmative defenses, including its immunity from tort
liability under the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Act
(MWCA). Indemnity Insurance Company of North America
(Indemnity Insurance) intervened in the suit. It sought
reimbursement for more than $600, 000 it had paid to Thomas,
in the event Thomas succeeded in the suit against Chevron.
Following Indemnity Insurance's motion to intervene,
Chevron and Haisch moved for summary judgment on the issue of
"Whether Chevron was a statutory employer entitled to
immunity from suit under the MWCA's exclusive remedy
provision." Thomas filed a cross-motion for summary
judgment seeking a ruling that Chevron was not entitled to
immunity because Chevron was not his statutory employer. On
December 22, 2015, the circuit court entered a final judgment
in favor of Chevron's motion for summary judgment,
dismissing Thomas's cross-motion, and dismissing with
prejudice all claims against Chevron. Thomas timely appealed
to this Court on January 19, 2016.
The standard of review of a trial court's grant of a
summary judgment motion is de novo. Miller v. Meeks,
762 So.2d 302, 304 (Miss. 2000) (citing Short v. Columbus
Rubber & Gasket Co., 535 So.2d 61, 63 (Miss. 1988)).
Accordingly, this Court will review all the evidentiary
matters, admissions in pleadings, answers to interrogatories,
depositions, affidavits, etc. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co.
v. Berry, 669 So.2d 56, 70 (Miss. 1996). The evidence
must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party
against whom the motion has been made. If, in this view,
there is no genuine issue of material fact, and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a ...