McLaughlin v. Stackpole Fibers Co., Inc.

Decision Date09 November 1988
Citation403 Mass. 360,530 N.E.2d 157
PartiesHelen McLAUGHLIN, et al. 1 v. STACKPOLE FIBERS COMPANY, INC.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court

Edward J. Moloney, Lowell, for plaintiffs.

Nora Tolins, Natick, for defendant.

Before HENNESSEY, C.J., and WILKINS, ABRAMS, NOLAN and LYNCH, JJ.

HENNESSEY, Chief Justice.

This action stems from the injury and death of Stephen B. McLaughlin in an industrial accident. The plaintiffs, the decedent's widow and minor son, brought suit against the decedent's employer for (1) the widow's loss of consortium caused by the employer's negligence, (2) the widow's loss of consortium caused by the employer's wilful, wanton, and reckless conduct, (3) negligent infliction of emotional distress upon the widow, and (4) the minor son's loss of parental society caused by the employer's negligence.

A Superior Court judge granted the employer's motion to dismiss all the claims under Mass.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), 365 Mass. 754 (1974), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The judge entered judgment for the employer on all the claims, and the plaintiffs appealed.

In a memorandum and order under Appeals Court Rule 1:28, the Appeals Court affirmed the dismissal of all but the claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. 26 Mass.App.Ct. 1101, 522 N.E.2d 1018 (1988). This court allowed the employer's application for further appellate review. The plaintiffs did not apply for further appellate review. Thus the only issue before us is the correctness of the judge's dismissal of the widow's action for emotional distress. We conclude that the judge was correct in dismissing that claim, and we affirm the judgment.

The essential facts relevant to the decedent's accident are as follows. On August 19, 1985, in the course of his employment, McLaughlin inhaled toxic hydrocarbons and lost consciousness. He was taken to a hospital. His wife arrived at the hospital shortly after his death. After her husband's death, the widow applied for and began to receive weekly compensation benefits under the provisions of the workers' compensation act, G.L. c. 152. 2

We disagree with the Appeals Court's conclusion that the judge was in error in dismissing the widow's claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. General Laws c. 152, §§ 1(4) and 23, bar the claim. Section 23 states that an "employee" who files a claim or accepts payment of compensation for personal injury under the workers' compensation act releases the insurer and insured of all common law claims arising from the injury. 3 Section 1(4) of the act provides that the term "employee," includes, after an employee's death, his or her legal representatives, dependents and other persons to whom compensation may be payable. 4 It is clear that once McLaughlin's widow filed a claim and received compensation under the act, she was barred from recovering in any actions against the employer for common law claims arising from her husband's injury. Her allegations of emotional distress arose from his injury and ultimate death, and are therefore barred. There was no error in the order of the Superior Court judge dismissing the claim.

JUDGMENT AFFIRMED.

1 Ryan McLaughlin.

2 The fact that the widow has received compensation payments was established by an undisputed affidavit which the employer filed with the pleadings. Therefore, we treat the proceeding as for summary judgment under Mass.R.Civ.P. 56(e), 365 Mass. 730 (1974), rather than for dismissal under 12(b)(6). The judge's ruling was correct. We add that both parties have discussed the significance of Ferriter v. Daniel O'Connell's Sons, Inc., 381 Mass. 507, 413 N.E.2d 690 (1980). Ferriter is not...

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8 cases
  • Berger v. H.P. Hood, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • December 23, 1993
    ...sustained in the course of employment, which gave rise to the payment of workers' compensation. See McLaughlin v. Stackpole Fibers Co., 403 Mass. 360, 362, 530 N.E.2d 157 (1988). Merely characterizing the claim as contractual does not alter the essential nature of this common law claim. Hoo......
  • Pittman v. W. Eng'g Co.
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • May 25, 2012
    ...by an injured employee's family member “arose” from the employee's injury and are therefore barred. In McLaughlin v. Stackpole Fibers Co., 403 Mass. 360, 530 N.E.2d 157 (1988), a widow brought a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress against her deceased husband's employer aft......
  • Maney v. Louisiana Pacific Corp.
    • United States
    • Montana Supreme Court
    • December 28, 2000
    ...131 Cal.Rptr. 200, Provost v. Puget Sound Power & Light Co. (1985), 103 Wash.2d 750, 696 P.2d 1238, and McLaughlin v. Stackpole Fibers Co., Inc. (1988), 403 Mass. 360, 530 N.E.2d 157. ¶ 19 Our analysis of whether § 39-71-411, MCA, bars Maney from bringing an independent tort action for emot......
  • Com. v. Caldwell
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • November 10, 1994
    ...appellate review. See Bradford v. Baystate Medical Ctr., 415 Mass. 202, 204-205, 613 N.E.2d 82 (1993); McLaughlin v. Stackpole Fibers Co., 403 Mass. 360, 361, 530 N.E.2d 157 (1988); Commonwealth v. Shea, 398 Mass. 264, 265, 496 N.E.2d 631 (1986); Commonwealth v. Burno, 396 Mass. 622, 623, 4......
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