Court Finds That Scheduled Injury Notice is Final

Mattos v. Starwood/Zurich, (Court of Appeals, Division One, Memorandum Decision, filed 7/2/2015)

The issue in this unpublished Memorandum Decision from Division One of the Court of Appeals is whether the original notice of permanent disability, which closed the claim with a scheduled disability for a shoulder and elbow injury, was void on its face and whether the claim should be closed with an unscheduled disability following a petition to reopen. Continue reading

Court Reaffirms That Concurrent Income Gained From Independent Contractor Services is Not Included in Average Monthly Wage Calculation

Muñoz v. Industrial Commission, Court of Appeals, Division Two, Published Opinion, Filed 1/10/14.

Muñoz injured her shoulder working part time for Sonic. Her average monthly wage was set at $1,570.68, which included wages from Sonic and her concurrent earnings from a home improvement store. Muñoz protested, claiming earnings from her horse training and rehabilitation business should have been included. At the time of her injury, she merely had “contracts” for training and rehab; she had yet to perform or be paid for those services. The ALJ concluded (1) the horse contracts were “prospective income” and could not be included and (2) the prospective earnings were as an independent contractor to horse owners and were not subject to the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The Court of Appeals analyzed the relationship of Muñoz to the horse owners and concluded she was an independent contractor rather than an employee looking at the various indicia of control outlined in Home v Industrial Comm’n. Therefore, consistent with earlier court decisions, her earnings could not be included. At oral argument, Muñoz argued that she was a “sole proprietor” and sole proprietors may be covered. The court noted that while sole proprietors “may” be covered, she produced no evidence that she applied for or obtained coverage for her business. Because the Court decided she was an independent contractor, it never addressed the more complicated issue of “prospective earnings.”

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.