Injured Workers’ Suit Against Mississippi Furniture Maker Upheld

April 20, 2009

The Mississippi Supreme Court has upheld a $3.76 million verdict against a Mississippi furniture maker sued by employees who alleged they were injured from a hazardous glue that the manufacturer made them use.

The Supreme Court has sidedwith four workers who claimed that the company, Franklin Corp. in Houston, Miss., ignored warnings and complaints from workers about the glue and did not provide proper ventilation in the factory.

The company was sued by employees Pauline Tedford, Lora Smith, Judy Haire and Samantha Mixon who worked at Franklin between 1999 and 2004. Their suit included claims for battery and intentional infliction of
emotional distress.

Franklin had argued that the lawsuit should not have been allowed but should instead have gone before the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission for a remedy.

But lawyers for the employees successfully argued that the case involved such egregious conduct that it fell under the intentional torts exclusion in the state’s workers’ compensation law.

A circuit court agreed with the employees and allowed the suit to continue. In 2007, a Calhoun County jury awarded damages totaling $9.5 million to the workers. A judge later reduced the amount to $3.76 million.

Franklin then appealed.

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