ICA has Jurisdiction to Order Foreign Corporation to Comply with Arizona Workers’ Compensation Act

Porteadores Del Noroeste v. Industrial Commission, Court of Appeals, Division One, Published Opinion, Filed 1/14/14.

Porteadores is a Mexican corporation, whose employee was involved in a rollover accident in Arizona north of Nogales. Porteadores did not have Arizona workers’ compensation coverage. It did participate in Mexico’s equivalent (IMSS) and IMSS paid some of the injured worker’s benefits. It declined, however, to pay $17,000 in medical bills from a doctor who practiced outside the IMSS network. Therefore, the worker filed a claim at the ICA. The Special Fund, No Insurance Section, accepted the claim, listing Porteadores as an “uninsured.” The Special Fund also denied the claim for $17,000 in medical bills and asserted a third party lien. The injured worker requested a hearing. Porteadores filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Special Fund argued that if the ICA had no jurisdiction, then it had no obligation to pay the injured worker. Ultimately, the ALJ denied the motion to dismiss, took evidence and ruled that the injured worker was entitled to benefits.

Porteadores appealed, contending that requiring a foreign employer to comply with Arizona’s workers compensation laws would violate federal law. After a lengthy discussion about NAFTA and the Foreign Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the Court of Appeals held that the ALJ was correct that Porteadores was subject to Arizona law and affirmed the injured worker’s award.

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