Up-the-ladder liability:  Tryon Trucking, Inc. v. Medlin (Ky. App. 2019)

This case raises the question of up-the-ladder liability under KRS 342.610(2) involving a unique set of facts.

In Tryon Trucking, Inc. v. Medlin (Ky. App. 2019), the claimant, a truck driver, was severely injured in a work-related motor vehicle accident.  The facts are somewhat complicated in that it involved several parties with differing relationships.

At the top of the pyramid, was Tryon, a company who contracted with businesses needing cargo moved by truck.  In this instance, Tryon brought defendant Mikron (the company needing cargo delivered) together with defendant Griffith, who would haul the cargo. Tryon would then lease the trucks to be used from trucking operators like Griffith.  Griffith then contracted with Medlin to be the driver.

Griffith was found to be Medlin’s employer, but as he was not insured, the question of up-the-ladder liability came in to play. The pivotal fact was that Tryon acted as a mere broker by bringing the cargo owner and trucking company together, but took the additional step of leasing the trucks for the hauling job.

In the matter below, the ALJ found that Tryon and Mikron could not be found liable as up-the-ladder contractors based on a reading of the unpublished decision of  Uninsured Employers’ Fund v. Ritchie, which the reviewing bodies in Medlin all found distinguishable.

In Ritchie, the counterpart to Tryon acted only as a broker.  It did not take the additional step of leasing the trucks for the haul.  The Medlin Court found this distinction was crucial and remanded for the ALJ to fully address the distinctions between the facts of Ritchie and Medlin and to determine if Tryon contracted with Griffith “to have work performed of a kind which ‘is a regular or recurrent part’ of Tryon’s trade or business.” If such were the case, then KRS 342.610(2) would apply as to Tryon.

By |2020-03-02T23:43:09+00:00March 2nd, 2020|