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Mingin v. Continental Can Co.

Decided: October 26, 1979.

PAUL MINGIN AND XUAN MINGIN, HIS WIFE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CONTINENTAL CAN COMPANY, URBANA TOOL & DIE COMPANY, AND JOHN DOE, DEFENDANTS



Miller, J.s.c.

Miller

This is a motion for summary judgment bottomed upon the theory that defendant is immune from suit under the Worker's Compensation Act, N.J.S.A. 34:15-8. The facts are as follows:

Plaintiff, in the scope of his employment at Crest Container Corp., was injured while operating a machine manufactured by the Urbana Tool & Dye Co. He received workers' compensation benefits from Crest's insurance carrier and thereafter brought this action against Urbana Tool & Dye Co. and Continental Can Company.

Both Crest and Urbana are wholly owned subsidiaries of Continental and both are covered under the same policy of

worker's compensation insurance issued by Kemper Insurance Company, the same being a national policy covering all of Continental's operations and subsidiaries.

The argument, obviously, is that the operation of Continental must be treated as one amalgamated unit and no recovery beyond worker's compensation benefits may be obtained. Taylor v. Pfaudler Sybron Corp. , 150 N.J. Super. 48 (App.Div.1977); Seltzer v. Isaacson , 147 N.J. Super. 308, 315 (App.Div.1977).

While it is clear that in the situations presented in the cited cases no common law action would lie, those cases do not present the instant situation. Continental is a large public corporation. The policy in question covers 37 states, the annual premium of which is $5,317,054. The same policy lists, in addition to the 37 states of Continental Can's orbit, 17 other subdivisions in 6 additional states. On April 27, 1976, the policy was amended to show the named insured as "The Continental Group."

Continental argues that since all of the stock of the Crest is owned by Continental and that since all members of its board of directors are employees of Continental together with the insurance coverage as set forth above, since unity is created between Crest and Continental, a common law action in this case must be denied.

In the cases wherein this has been raised elsewhere the holdings have not supported this premise as a matter of law.

In Boggs v. Blue Diamond Coal Co. , 590 F.2d 655 (1979), the Sixth Circuit pointed out:

Workmen's compensation laws were passed before the multi-unit enterprise became the norm in the American economy and before the accompanying managerial revolution in American business . . . For this reason, state workmen's compensation laws . . . do not address the question of a parent corporation's ...


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