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REED v. PARAMOUNT WIRE CO.

June 21, 2005.

JERRY REED, Plaintiff,
v.
PARAMOUNT WIRE CO., INC., and CARPENTER TECHNOLOGY CORP., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, District Judge

OPINION & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

  Jerry Reed is suing Paramount Wire Co., Inc. ("Paramount") and Carpenter Technology Corp. ("Carpenter") for injuries allegedly resulting from his exposure to benzene during his employment by the defendants. Paramount now moves for summary judgment dismissing Reed's claim. For the following reasons, Paramount's motion is granted and the case is dismissed.*fn1

  II. FACTS

  Reed worked as a machine operator in the wire drawing industry first for Carpenter and later, from 1993 to 1996, for Paramount.*fn2 At all times during and subsequent to Reed's employment, Paramount maintained workers' compensation insurance for its employees.*fn3

  As part of his duties, Reed used various chemicals provided by Paramount to clean and degrease the machines in the factory.*fn4 One of these chemicals is alleged to have been gasoline, which contains benzene.*fn5

  In November 1998, Reed was diagnosed with severe anemia and in October 1999, he was diagnosed with severe myelodysplasia, probably secondary to benzene exposure.*fn6 Because he had not been exposed to chemicals elsewhere, Reed believed that his exposure to benzene had occurred at work.*fn7 On April 3, 2000, Reed signed an Employee's Claim for Compensation ("Compensation Claim") for filing with the New York State Workers' Compensation Board (the "Board") stating that his illness was caused by exposure to benzene and other toxic chemicals.*fn8 He then filed suit in this Court on October 13, 2004. Jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship between the parties.

  III. LEGAL STANDARD

  Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence of record "show[s] that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."*fn9 "An issue of fact is genuine `if the evidence is such that a jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'"*fn10 "A fact is material for these purposes if it `might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.'"*fn11 The movant has the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact exists. In turn, to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must raise a genuine issue of material fact.*fn12 To do so, it "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts."*fn13 It must "come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."*fn14 In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all inferences in that party's favor.*fn15 However, "[w]hile all factual ambiguities must be resolved in favor of the nonmoving party, the nonmoving party may not rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation."*fn16 "The `mere existence of a scintilla of evidence' supporting the non-movant's case is also insufficient to defeat summary judgment."*fn17

  IV. DISCUSSION

  Paramount raises two grounds for summary judgment: first, that the Workers' Compensation law designates a proceeding before the Board as the sole remedy for a workplace injury, to the exclusion of a civil suit; and second, that Reed's claim is time-barred. For the reasons discussed below, summary judgment is granted on both grounds.

  A. Exclusivity of Employer Liability

  Section 11 of New York Workers' Compensation Law provides that
the liability of an employer [under Workers' Compensation Law] . . . shall be exclusive and in place of any other liability whatsoever . . . at common law or otherwise . . . except that if the employer fails to secure the payment of compensation for his or her injured employees . . . an injured employee . . . may . . . maintain an action in the courts for damages.*fn18
  "[T]he exclusive remedy available to an employee injured in the course of employment is provided by the Workers' Compensation law"*fn19 unless the employer intentionally injured the employee*fn20 or failed to secure workers' ...

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