BALTAZAR GOMEZ, JR., ESTELLA GRIMALDO, ELENA GOMEZ, ELIZABETH FREEMAN, VERONICA FERRO, ZANDRA PEDROZA, ALICIA GOMEZ, YESENIA GOMEZ, and BALTAZAR GOMEZ, III, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
CROOKHAM COMPANY, an Idaho corporation, Defendant-Respondent.
from the District Court of the Third Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Canyon County. Thomas J. Ryan, District
judgment of the district court is affirmed in part and
reversed in part.
Law, PC, Nampa and Dinius & Associates, PLLC, Nampa, for
Appellants. Kevin E. Dinius argued.
& Burke, PA, Boise, for Respondent. James A. Ford argued.
Francisca Gomez died as the result of a horrific industrial
accident that occurred while she was cleaning a seed sorting
machine as part of her employment with the Crookham Company
("Crookham"). Her family (the Gomezes) received
worker's compensation benefits and also brought a
wrongful death action. The Gomezes now appeal the decision of
the district court granting Crookham's motion for summary
judgment on all claims relating to Mrs. Gomez's death.
The district court held that Mrs. Gomez was working within
the scope of her employment at the time of the accident, that
all of the Gomezes' claims are barred by the exclusive
remedy rule of Idaho worker's compensation law, that the
exception to the exclusive remedy rule provided by Idaho Code
section 72-209(3) does not apply, and that the Gomezes'
product liability claims fail as a matter of law because
Crookham is not a "manufacturer." We affirm in part
and reverse in part.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
case arises from the death of Mrs. Gomez during a shift at
Crookham on January 20, 2016. Crookham is a wholesale seed
distributor located in Caldwell, Idaho. Mrs. Gomez was an
employee of Crookham for more than thirty years before her
early 2015, Crookham determined that a new picking table was
necessary to sort seeds more efficiently. A Crookham employee
fabricated a new table and it was installed in the
company's "Scancore" room in late 2015. The new
picking table's drive shaft was not fully guarded and did
not adhere to the required lockout-tagout procedures, even
though OSHA had previously cited Crookham for violating
machine guard safety standards and lockout-tagout protocol
with its former picking tables.
January 20, 2016, Mrs. Gomez was assigned to work in the
Scancore room. The employees' duties in that room
included cleaning the picking table between sorting batches
of different varieties of seeds. To clean the picking table,
employees used an air wand to blow seeds upward from beneath
the table while the machine is operating. During her shift,
Mrs. Gomez was under the picking table attempting to clean it
when the table's exposed drive shaft caught her hair and
pulled her into the machine. She died as a result of her
injuries. OSHA subsequently investigated Crookham and issued
"serious" violations to the company because it
exposed its employees to the unguarded drive shaft without
implementing lockout-tagout procedures.
2016, the Gomezes filed their Complaint and Demand for Jury
Trial. The complaint set forth nine causes of action: (1)
negligent design; (2) failure to warn; (3) strict
liability-defective product; (4) strict liability-failure to
warn; (5) breach of implied warranty of fitness and/or
merchantability; (6) breach of express warranty; (7) strict
liability-abnormally dangerous activity; (8)
negligence/negligence per se; and (9) wrongful death.
moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the
motion, holding that all of the Gomezes' claims were
barred by the exclusive remedy rule of worker's
compensation law, that the unprovoked physical aggression
exception to the exclusive remedy rule did not apply, that
Mrs. Gomez was working within the scope of her employment
when the accident occurred, and that the Gomezes' product
liability claims failed because Crookham was not a
manufacturer of the picking table for product liability
purposes. The district court entered a final judgment
dismissing all of the Gomezes' claims on October 3, 2017.
The Gomezes timely appealed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court's review of a trial court's ruling on a motion
for summary judgment is the same standard used by the trial
court in originally ruling on the motion." Robison
v. Bateman-Hall, Inc., 139 Idaho 207, 209, 76 P.3d 951,
953 (2003). "Summary judgment is appropriate 'if the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.'" Taylor v. Taylor, 163
Idaho 910, 916, 422 P.3d 1116, 1122 (2018) (citing I.R.C.P.
56(a)). "A genuine issue of material fact exists when
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the non-moving party." Marek v. Hecla,
Ltd., 161 Idaho 211, 220, 384 P.3d 975, 984 (2016);
see also Houpt v. Wells Fargo Bank, Nat. Ass'n,
160 Idaho 181, 186, 370 P.3d 384, 389 (2016) ("If
reasonable people could reach different conclusions or
inferences from the evidence, summary judgment is
inappropriate."). "This Court liberally construes
the record in favor of the party opposing the motion for
summary judgment and draws any reasonable inferences and
conclusions in that party's favor."
Robison, 139 Idaho at 209, 76 P.3d at 953.
Regarding the interpretation of statutes, we have said,
[t]he interpretation of a statute is a question of law over
which this Court exercises de novo review. The
objective of statutory interpretation is to derive
legislative intent. Legislative intent begins with the
literal language of the statute. To determine the meaning of
a statute, the Court applies the plain and ordinary meaning
of the terms and, where possible, every word, clause and
sentence should be given effect.
Id. at 210, 76 P.3d at 954 (internal citations
omitted). "Statutes which relate to the same subject are
in pari materia and they should be construed
together to effectuate legislative intent."
Dewey v. Merrill, 124 Idaho 201, 204, 858
P.2d 740, 743 (1993).
Gomezes contend that because the exclusive remedy rule of
Idaho worker's compensation law is found only in Idaho
Code section 72-211, it does not bar civil death claims, and
that the Industrial Commission does not have exclusive
jurisdiction over civil death claims. They alternatively
argue that the exception to the exclusive remedy rule found
in Idaho Code section 72-209(3) permits them to proceed with
their claims because Crookham committed an unprovoked
physical aggression against Mrs. Gomez. They further argue
that Mrs. Gomez's death does not meet the definition of
"accident" and that Crookham is a manufacturer of
the picking table at issue for product liability purposes.
The exclusive remedy rule bars the Gomezes' civil death
claim, unless the exception to the exclusive remedy rule
Gomezes argue that Idaho Code section 72-211 alone provides
the exclusive remedy rule in Idaho, that the exclusive remedy
rule does not bar civil death claims, and that the Industrial
Commission does not have exclusive jurisdiction over
work-related death claims.
Idaho Code sections 72-209 and 72-211 comprise the
exclusive remedy rule.
Gomezes argue that Idaho Code section 72-211 alone provides
the exclusive remedy rule in Idaho. We find that Idaho Code
sections 72-209(1) and 72-211 together comprise the exclusive
remedy rule of Idaho worker's compensation law.
section of the worker's compensation law is interpreted
"in pari materia." Roe v.
Albertson's Inc., 141 Idaho 524, 530, 112 P.3d 812,
818 (2005). Therefore, the statutes should be "taken
together and construed as one system, and the object is to
carry into effect the intention." Grand Canyon
Dories v. Idaho State Tax Comm'n, 124 Idaho 1, 4,
855 P.2d 462, 465 (1993) (quoting Meyers v. City of Idaho
Falls, 52 Idaho 81, 89-90, 11 P.2d 626, 629 (1932)).
"For the purpose of learning the intention, all statutes
relating to the same subject are to be compared, and . . .
brought into harmony by interpretation." Id.
Code section 72-209 was added to the worker's
compensation law in 1971 when the laws were recodified under
Title 72. Roe, 141 Idaho at 530, 112 P.3d at 818.
"[B]oth the police power section and the exclusive
remedy section remained part of the Act." Id.
(referring to what are now Idaho Code sections 72-201 and
72-211). Regarding Idaho Code section 72-209, we have
explained: "Prior to 1971 there was no similar
provision, although this provision appears to be the
employer's mirror image of I.C. § 72-211."
Code section 72-211 provides that "the rights and
remedies herein granted to an employee on account of an
injury or occupational disease for which he is entitled to
compensation under this law shall exclude all other rights
and remedies . . . ." Idaho Code section 72-209(1)
states that "the liability of the employer under this
law shall be exclusive and in place of all other liability of
the employer to the employee . . . ." In sum, Idaho Code
section 72-211 specifies that worker's compensation
benefits are an employee's exclusive remedy where the
employee is entitled to such benefits, and Idaho Code section
72-209(1) reinforces this remedy by requiring an employer to
provide benefits even where another party is also liable to
the employee. Idaho Code section 72-209(1) also limits the
employer's liability for claims covered under the law to
worker's compensation benefits. When read in pari
materia, it is clear that these statutes were intended
to operate in harmony-"[b]oth provisions state that if
an employer is liable under the worker's compensation law
then all other liability is excluded." Roe, 141
Idaho at 530, 112 P.3d at 818. Thus, we reaffirm our
statement in Venters v. Sorrento Delaware, Inc.:
"Counterbalancing the employers' burden of providing
'sure and certain relief' to injured workers, the Act
limits the employers' exposure to tort liability through
I.C. §§ 72-209(1) and 72-211. These limitations on
the scope of employee remedies are together referred to as
the 'exclusive remedy rule.'" 141 Idaho 245,
248-49, 108 P.3d 392, 395-96 (2005).
The exclusive remedy rule bars civil death claims and the
Industrial Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over such
claims unless the exception provided by Idaho Code section
Gomezes argue that the exclusive remedy rule does not bar
civil claims for a work-related death and that the Industrial
Commission does not have exclusive jurisdiction over
work-related death claims. Because these two concepts are
inextricably connected, the Gomezes' arguments are
essentially the same. The result the Gomezes seek is a
determination that they have a remedy in civil court for Mrs.
Gomez's death, without reliance on an exception to the
exclusive remedy rule.
previously stated, Idaho Code sections 72-209(1) and 72-211
comprise the exclusive remedy rule. Venters, 141
Idaho at 248-49, 108 P.3d at 395-96. Idaho Code section
72-209(1) unambiguously limits an employer's liability
for a work-related injury, occupational disease, or death to
worker's compensation benefits. Yet, the Gomezes posit
that the exclusive remedy rule does not include work-related
death claims because Idaho Code section 72-211 does not
expressly include such claims. While the statute does not
explicitly include death claims, it is subject to Idaho Code
section 72-223, which does expressly include death claims.
Code section 72-223 provides that an employer is liable to
pay worker's compensation for a work-related injury,
occupational disease, or death, even though a third party is
also liable to pay damages. The statute also provides that an
employee may have a remedy outside of the worker's
compensation law against the third party; however, employers
are not considered third parties. I.C. § 72-223;
Robison, 139 Idaho at 211, 76 P.3d at 955
("[P]arties deemed employers for the purpose of being
liable for worker's compensation benefits under I.C.
§ 72-102 are the same parties deemed immune from
third-party tort liability under I.C. § 72-223.").
Consequently, we hold that Idaho Code section 72-211 limits
an employee's remedy against an employer for a
work-related death to worker's compensation benefits. We
have previously explained the apparent rationale for this
And lest it be argued that this rule of law may in some cases
deprive persons of remedy for damages which they had prior to
the passage of the Workmen's Compensation Law, we note
that that law has a dual policy . . . to provide "not
only for employees a remedy which is both expeditious and
independent of proof of fault, but also for employers a
liability which is limited and determinative."
Stample v. Idaho Power Co., 92 Idaho 763, 766, 450
P.2d 610, 613 (1969) (quoting Smither & Co. v.
Coles, 242 F.2d 220, 222 (D.C. Cir. 1957)).
the Industrial Commission's jurisdiction, the Gomezes
assert that the plain meaning of Idaho Code section 72-201
indicates legislative intent to exclude death claims from the
Industrial Commission's exclusive jurisdiction because
the word "death" is not expressly included in the
statute. The Gomezes assert instead that the Industrial
Commission has concurrent jurisdiction over industrial death
claims, which allows the Gomezes to both collect death
benefits and to also bring a civil action arising from Mrs.
Gomezes' contention fails when Idaho Code section 72-201
is read in conjunction with Idaho Code sections 72-209 and
72-211, as intended: "Idaho Code §§ 72-201,
72-209 and 72-211 should not be read in isolation from one
another." Roe, 141 Idaho at 530, 112 P.3d at
818. "Each section is part of the worker's
compensation law and we interpret them in pari
materia." Id. Idaho Code section 72-201
states, in part: "The common law system governing the
remedy of workmen against employers for injuries received and
occupational diseases contracted in industrial and public
work is inconsistent with modern industrial conditions."
The statute also provides that "all civil actions and
civil causes of action for such personal injuries and all
jurisdiction of the courts of the state over such ...