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A fish processing worker injured while on a job in Alaska cannot collect workers compensation benefits in his home state, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled last week.
Although his employer had recruited the worker while he was in Nebraska, that was not enough to categorize the company as statutory employer in the state, the high court ruled, upholding a workers compensation court ruling.
According to the ruling in Hassan v. Trident Seafoods, Nebraska resident Abdi Hassan was working as a seasonal seafood processor at an Alaska plant of Seattle-based Trident Seafoods Corp. in 2015 when he sustained a lower back injury. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., Trident’s Alaska workers comp insurer, paid more than $30,000 in medical expenses and indemnity to Mr. Hassan for his injuries.
According to the ruling, Mr. Hassan said the accident caused permanent physical restrictions that prevented him from returning to work in his pre-accident capacity and he was referred to a rehabilitation specialist when he returned to Nebraska. Alaska authorities found that he met the requirements to receive reemployment benefits under Alaska’s workers comp law, so long as he completed a form mailed to him within 30 days. He did not complete the required documentation and was determined “noncooperative” by Alaska’s comp authorities.
In March 2017, he filed a petition in Nebraska Workers Compensation Court seeking benefits. Liberty Mutual sought to dismiss the claims on the grounds that Nebraska’s Workers Compensation Court did not have jurisdiction. The court dismissed the case, holding that Trident was not a statutory employer under Nebraska law and that recruiting workers in the state — which the company routinely did to attract seasonal workers — did not constitute “performing work” as required by the statute.
Mr. Hassan appealed, but the Supreme Court of Nebraska in Lincoln affirmed the compensation court’s ruling.