Under Section 2745.01 of the Ohio Revised Code, an employer’s intentional tort liability is limited to the rare situation where it acts with “deliberate intent” to injure the employee. Proving deliberate intent, however, is extremely difficult. Consequently, employees increasingly rely upon R.C. 2745.01(C), sometimes called the “equipment safety guard” provision, which provides that an employer’s deliberate removal of an equipment safety guard creates a rebuttable presumption that the employer intended to cause injury. It essentially allows a court to assume the employer intended to injure the employee even if no direct proof of deliberate intent exists —requiring the employerto then disprove intent.
Recently, in Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co v. Ivex Protective Packaging, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165670 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 26, 2014), the court addressed whether a claim under R.C. 2745.01(C) was covered by an employer’s insurance policy that specifically excluded bodily injuries “intentionally caused or aggravated” by an employer-insured. The coverage dispute stemmed from an underlying lawsuit involving an Ohio manufacturing plant employee who was seriously injured when a machine malfunctioned due to the lack of proper safety guards. The employee sued Ivex, his employer, alleging that Ivex intentionally caused his injuries by removing the safety guards. The parties eventually settled and agreed that Ivex’s liability was limited to a disputed violation of R.C. 2745.01(C).