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Family of deceased Mississippi prison worker sues employer

In the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Act, there is something called the exclusive remedy provision. This provision protects employers from being sued in certain situations in which an employee was injured or killed. Instead of suing the employer, injured employees or the families of deceased employees can seek workers' compensation.

This provision was the subject of a recent motion to dismiss a lawsuit against a private prison company that operates Natchez's Adams County Correctional Facility.

In 2012, a correctional officer at the prison was beaten to death by inmates during a riot. The family of the deceased guard then sued the prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA. The company is accused of creating an atmosphere that endangered prison employees "by depriving inmates of basic needs and treating them inhumanely."

The lawsuit also alleges that officials at the prison were informed of the increasingly volatile atmosphere prior to the riot, yet the officials failed to alert the now-deceased man and other guards that inmates had put the guards' names on a "hit list."

For its part, the prison company responded that the correctional officer's death arose out of the course of his employment, and that workers' compensation, rather than a civil lawsuit, is the appropriate course of action for the family.

The prison company also claims that the officer's death resulted from the "willful conduct of a third party (inmates)." That willful conduct, according to the company, occurred because of the officer's employment status at the prison.

The case illustrates the need for strong legal support in matters of workers' compensation, personal injury and wrongful death. The law in these matters can overlap, and anyone with legal concerns related to damages or injuries may want to consult with an attorney to consider the full range of options.

Source: clarionledger.com, "Prison company seeks dismissal of riot lawsuit," Holbrook Mohr, July 5, 2013

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