Bundy v. NuStar GP LLC, et al.Annotate this Case
At issue in this case was whether the Oregon legislature intended to create an exception to ORS 656.018, the so-called “exclusive remedy” provision of the Workers’ Compensation Law, for injured workers whose claims have been deemed noncompensable on “major contributing cause” grounds. While employed by defendant Shore Terminals, LLC as a terminal operator, plaintiff Danny Bundy was assigned to stay and monitor the air quality from malfunctioning machinery without being given safety equipment, and he was exposed to dangerous levels of diesel, gasoline and ethanol fumes. After that incident, defendant initially accepted a workers’ compensation claim for "non-disabling exposure to gasoline vapors." Later, plaintiff asked defendant to accept and pay compensation for additional conditions arising out of the same incident, including "somatization disorder" and "undifferentiated somatoform disorder." Defendant specified that it was treating each of plaintiff’s subsequent requests as a "consequential condition claim" and was denying those claims on the basis that plaintiff’s work exposure was not the major contributing cause of the subsequent conditions. Plaintiff challenged those denials through the workers’ compensation system, but he was unable to establish that the work incident was the major contributing cause of his somatoform disorders. The Workers’ Compensation Board ultimately issued a final order determining that the disorders were not compensable conditions because plaintiff failed to establish that his work-related incident was the major contributing cause. Plaintiff acknowledged that the Workers’ Compensation Law generally immunized covered employers against civil liability for injuries arising out of a worker’s employment. Plaintiff argued, however, that his case fell within a statutory exception to that rule and that the trial court and Court of Appeals, both of which ruled in defendant’s favor on that legal question, erred in concluding otherwise. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded that plaintiff’s statutory argument failed, and that the trial court and Court of Appeals therefore did not err.