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Tashay Lenzy worked as a barista at a Ralphs grocery store in Los Angeles, California. In September 2016, she fell and injured her knee when she was struck by the door of a service elevator in the store where she worked as a coffee barista.

She filed an application for adjudication of her workers’ compensation claim with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board in which she listed “Ralphs” as her employer. She settled her claim for a lump sum payment of $50,000. The compromise and release identified Kroger as her employer. The order approving the compromise and release identified the defendant as “The Kroger Company, dba Ralphs Grocery Co.”

While Lenzy’s workers’ compensation claim was still pending, she commenced a civil action for negligence against Ralphs and Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corporation.

Ralphs moved for summary judgment claiming the case was barred by the workers’ compensation exclusive remedy rule. The trial court denied plaintiff’s evidentiary objections and granted Ralphs’ motion for summary judgment.

The summary judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeal in the unpublished case of Lenzy v Ralphs Grocery Company, (April 2022) B308069.

On appeal, Lenzy contends Ralphs did not carry its initial burden to establish two facts required for summary judgment based on the workers’ compensation exclusive remedy rule: (1) that Ralphs (not just Kroger) was plaintiff’s employer, and (2) that Ralphs (not just Kroger) carried workers’ compensation insurance or possessed a certificate of self-insurance.

Because the Workers’ Compensation Act intends comprehensive coverage of injuries in employment,it defines employment broadly in terms of service to an employer and includes a general presumption that any person in service to another is a covered employee. (§§ 3351, 5705, subd. (a) . . . .) (S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341, 354.

The Court of Appeal resolved these issues by concluding that “Plaintiff’s suggestion that Kroger’s involvement in the resolution of her workers’ compensation claim raises doubts as to the identity of her employer misses the mark because the exclusive remedy rule applies even if she was an employee of both Ralphs and its parent company.

“As to insurance, Ralphs’ initial summary judgment burden was satisfied by plaintiff’s statement that Ralphs was insured in her application for adjudication of her workers’ compensation claim and the order approving her workers’ compensation settlement that identified the defendant as Kroger doing business as Ralphs”