Case involving job-related injury ping-pongs back to state court
Names v. Lee Publications, Inc., et al., No. 09cv0132 BEN (CAB) (S.D. Cal. 09/21/09).
The U.S. District Court, Southern District of California remanded a state workers' compensation and disability discrimination law suit, which had been removed to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction, back to state court.
What it means:
When an employee who works for a company based in another state experiences disability discrimination connected to a work-related injury that is covered under state workers' compensation laws, his suit may need to remain in state court despite the employer's request for diversity jurisdiction in federal court. Workers' compensation retaliatory discharge claims are non-removable.
An employee of a publisher was injured at work. He submitted a workers' compensation claim. He asserted that he was harassed based on his injury-related disability, that the publisher failed to engage in the interactive accommodation process for his injury, that he was subjected to discrimination based on his disability and age, and that he was terminated in retaliation for his workers' compensation claim. The employee sued the company in state court under several state laws.
The company removed the case to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. However, after the employee moved for remand, the District Court sent the case back to state court. The District Court held that the employee's claim against the company arose under the state workers' compensation laws.
The court pointed out that, generally, in cases where no defendant is a resident of the state where the suit is brought, diversity jurisdiction allows removal of the case to federal court. However, actions arising under state workers' compensation laws may not be removed in that fashion.
Because all of the claims, including the discrimination claims, arose under the same set of facts and circumstances, the court determined that judicial economy dictated that they should be resolved in state court.
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October 26, 2009
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