An employer's rights under Workers' Compensation Law §11 are not extinguished merely because the injured employee is an undocumented alien
New York Hosp. Med. Ctr. of Queens v Microtech Contr. Corp., 2014 NY Slip Op 00897, Court of Appeals
In Balbuena v IDR Realty, LLC, 6 NY3d 338 , the Court of Appeals held that an injured employee's status as an undocumented alien does not preclude his or her recovery of lost wages in a personal injury action against a landowner under the state's Labor Law.
In deciding New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens [Hospital] v Microtech Contr. Corp., the Court of Appeals held that an employer's statutory rights under the Workers' Compensation Law are not extinguished merely because the injured employee is an undocumented alien.
Hospital sued Microtech for common-law and contractual contribution and indemnification to recover any damages it had incurred in the course of litigation in which Microtech’s injured employees alleged their injuries resulted from Hospital’s alleged violations of the Labor Law.
Supreme Court had granted the employees summary judgment on liability on their causes of action grounded in Labor Law §§240 (1) and 241 (6). Hospital's attorney said that Hospital and the employees had entered into “a high-low agreement”* at the damages trial that followed and, after the verdict, the judgment was paid in keeping with this arrangement. The hospital then sued Microtech seeking indemnification for the damages it suffered.
The Court of Appeals, affirming the Appellate Division’s decision, held that Microtech’s alleged violations of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (8 USC §1324a) claimed by the hospital did not abrogate Microtech’s protection from third-party claims available to it pursuant to §11.
In other words, the court ruled that, “under the facts and circumstances presented by this case,” an employees' immigration status does not affect his or her employer's rights under Workers' Compensation Law §11.
* A high/low agreement is “a settlement in which a defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a minimum recovery amount in return for the plaintiff’s agreement to accept a maximum amount regardless of the outcome of the trial.”
The decision is posted on the Internet at:http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2014/2014_00897.htm