Louis v. Reborn Autobody
Where the claimant worked independently, did not have a set schedule and was not paid by the hour, precedent establishes that these facts are consistent with finding a worker is acting as an independent contractor and not an employee. Jean Louis sustained injuries to fingers on his left hand while working as a mechanic at Reborn Autobody. Louis sought workers’ compensation benefits, claiming he was Reborn’s employee and earned a $650 weekly wage paid in cash. The commissioner found the claimant not credible and the testimony of Armand Sajous, Reborn’s owner, credible. The commissioner determined that the claimant would perform automotive mechanical work on an as-needed basis for Reborn in exchange for 50 percent of the amount charged for his labor. No fringe benefits were provided or taxes withheld. The claimant worked according to his own methods and without Reborn’s control except as to the work’s result. The commissioner dismissed the claim, concluding that Louis was an independent contractor and, absent an employer-employee relationship, the Workers’ Compensation Commission lacked jurisdiction over the injury. Louis appealed, arguing that Sajous had full control and management of his work and, therefore, an employee-employer relationship existed making his work-related injury compensable under Chapter 568. The Compensation Review Board affirmed the finding and dismissal. The trial commissioner reasonably could have concluded that the claimant did not establish the requisite employer-employee relationship. Absent a motion to correct, the board was required to give the commissioner’s factual findings conclusive affect. The board could not substitute its opinion of the credibility of a witness for that of the trier of fact. The commissioner applied the "totality of factors test" from the 1998 Supreme Court decision in Hanson v. Transportation General, Inc. and concluded that various elements of an employer-employee relationship were not present. The commissioner found that the claimant worked independently, did not have a set schedule and was not paid by the hour. Precedent establishes that these facts are consistent with finding a worker is acting as an independent contractor and not an employee. No error was found.