Justia Insurance Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Immigration Law
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Defendant was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and obtained a $35,000 bond for his release from custody. The surety promised to assure Defendant’s appearance for arraignment. The contract stated that, if Defendant left the jurisdiction, he would “voluntarily return” and “waive extradition.” On the day of the arraignment, Defendant's indemnitor informed the surety Defendant told her he was in Mexico. The court forfeited the bail bond. Under Penal Code 1305(c), the court was required to vacate the forfeiture if Defendant appeared in court, either voluntarily or in custody, within 180 days. The court extended the appearance period by six months. The surety then moved to vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bond or to toll or extend time, arguing that Defendant was located in Mexico and “subject to “constructive custody,” having obtained a Mexican passport and applied for a U.S. visa. The surety contended the People were imposing improper conditions, including a requirement that the surety pay for extradition ($50,000). The surety argued Defendant was in effect detained as a result of immigration laws that precluded his reentry. The People argued they could not extradite Defendant on a misdemeanor charge and that he was not detained but left the country voluntarily. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment against the surety, rejecting an argument that Defendant suffered from a “temporary disability” under Penal Code 1305(e), View "People v. The North River Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Jose Campos was injured while working for Daisy Construction Company. While Campos was receiving total disability payments from Daisy, Daisy performed an investigation of his social security number at the request of its workers' compensation insurance carrier and discovered that Campos was an undocumented worker. When Campos could not provide a valid number, Daisy terminated his employment. Around the same time, Daisy hired a doctor to re-evaluate Campos' medical condition. The doctor concluded that although Campos remained partially disabled, he could perform "light duty" work with restrictions. Daisy then filed a petition with the Industrial Accident Board to terminate Campos' total disability benefit payments. The Board granted Daisy's petition because Campos was physically capable of working and therefore was not totally disabled. The Board also found that Campos was not eligible for partial disability benefits, reasoning that Daisy had met its burden of showing that Campos had no decrease in earning capacity by testifying that Campos would be eligible for light duty jobs at Daisy at his pre-injury wage rate if he could provide a valid social security number. The Superior Court affirmed the Board's decision. After its review, the Delaware Supreme Court concluded the Board erred when it found that Campos was not eligible for partial disability benefits: "If we were to hold that Daisy's testimony constituted sufficient proof of job availability, an employer could always hire an undocumented worker, have him suffer a workplace injury, and then avoid partial disability benefit payments by 'discovering' his immigration status, offering to re-employ him if he could fix it, and claiming that a job is available to him at no loss in wages. This outcome would be contrary to the Workers' Compensation Act and our case law interpreting it, [...] which prevents employers from depriving undocumented workers of employment benefits. [...]Accordingly, Daisy must continue to pay partial disability payments until it can demonstrate that Campos has no decrease in earning power from his workplace injury, or until the statutory period for partial disability benefit eligibility expires. Federal restrictions that prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers may make it more difficult for Daisy to prove job availability, but any difficulty is appropriately borne by it as the employer, who must take the employee, Campos, as it hired him." View "Campos v. Daisy Construction Co." on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on the proper allocation of the burden of proof between an employer and a workers' compensation claimant regarding the injured employee's legal eligibility under federal immigration law to obtain suitable employment whenever the employer seeks to suspend workers' compensation disability benefits. The Court held that in this case, the Commonwealth Court correctly determined that Appellant, Kennett Square Specialties bore the burden to prove that the loss of earning power of its employee, David Cruz, was due to his lack of United States citizenship or other legal work authorization in order to obtain a suspension of his workers' compensation disability benefits. Furthermore, the Court held that Claimant's invocation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when questioned at the hearing before the Workers' Compensation Judge did not constitute substantial evidence of his alleged lack of legal authorization to be employed in the United States, and thus could not, standing alone, furnish sufficient evidence for the WCJ to suspend Claimant's benefits. View "Cruz v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board" on Justia Law