An employee, and his or her dependents, injured in the course and scope of employment is generally limited to workers’ compensation as the exclusive remedy for satisfaction of claims against the employer. There are, however, limited statutory exceptions that allow an injured worker to augment workers’ compensation benefits by bringing an action at law for damages against the employer.
One exception is Labor Code section 4558, the “power press exception”, which authorizes an injured worker to bring a civil action for tort damages against his or her employer where the injuries were caused by the employer’s removal of, or failure to install, an operation guard on a power press where the manufacturer designed, installed, and required a guard.
Does the power press exception operate to allow an injured workers’ spouse to file an action at law against the employer for loss of consortium? The California Supreme Court, in LeFiell Mfg. Co. v. Superior Court, has answered the question: “No.” Under settled principles of workers’ compensation law, the exclusivity rule bars a dependent spouse’s claim for loss of consortium.