PERSONNEL MATTERS: High Court won't consider Mexican workers' comp case
By Sheena Harrison, Crain News Service
WASHINGTON (April 24, 2015) — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to consider the case of a Mexican transportation company ordered to repay the state of Arizona for workers compensation benefits paid to a Mexican truck driver who was injured in state.
A petition for writ of certiorari was denied on April 6 in Porteadores Del Noroeste S.A. de C.V. vs Industrial Commission of Arizona et al., according a docket posted on the Supreme Court's website.
The case was based on a January 2014 decision from the Arizona Court of Appeals, which found that Porteadores must repay Arizona for workers' comp benefits that went to a Mexican national who also received benefits from Mexico's social security agency. The Arizona Supreme Court declined in September to take up the case, according to court filings.
Adan Valenzuela, a Mexican citizen and resident, worked for Tijuana, Mexico-based Porteadores and transported diesel fuel from Phoenix to Nogales, Mexico, according to court records. Mr. Valenzuela was injured in a work-related rollover accident in Arizona, and he was treated at hospitals in Mexico and Tucson, Arizona.
Mr. Valenzuela filed for disability benefits from the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Mexico's social security agency, records show. He also filed for workers' comp benefits with the Arizona industrial commission in September 2010, and his claim was referred to the commission's special fund division because Porteadores did not have an Arizona workers comp policy.
An Arizona administrative law judge later found that Mr. Valenzuela was entitled to receive benefits from the Arizona special fund, including $17,000 in unpaid medical bills that Mr. Valenzuela accrued in Mexico.
The judge also found that the special fund was entitled to a credit for benefits that were already paid to Mr. Valenzuela by the Mexican agency on behalf of Porteadores, records show.
Porteadores had argued on appeal that requiring a foreign employer to comply with Arizona workers' comp law violated U.S. law, and that the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Foreign Commerce Clause pre-empted Arizona workers' comp law, records show. But a three-judge panel of the Arizona appellate court unanimously affirmed the administrative judge's ruling last year.
This report appeared on the website of Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.
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