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Supreme Court asked to consider Mexican truck driving case


The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to take up the case of a Mexican transportation company that was ordered to repay the state of Arizona for workers compensation benefits paid to a truck driver injured in the state.

Porteadores Del Noroeste S.A. de C.V. vs Industrial Commission of Arizona et al. was placed on the Supreme Court’s docket on Tuesday, according to the court’s website. A petition for writ of certiorari was filed in the case on Dec. 22.

The case is based on a January 2014 decision from the Arizona Court of Appeals, which found that Porteadores must repay Arizona for workers comp benefits that went to a Mexican national who also received benefits from Mexico’s social security agency.The Arizona Supreme Court declined in September to take up the case, according to court filings.

Adan Valenzuela, a Mexican citizen and resident, worked for Porteadores, which is based in Tijuana, Mexico and transports diesel fuel from Phoenix to Nogales, Mexico, according to court records. Mr. Valenzuela was injured in a work-related rollover accident in Arizona, and he was treated at hospitals in Mexico and Tucson, Arizona.

Mr. Valenzuela filed for disability benefits from the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Mexico’s social security agency, records show. He also filed for workers comp benefits with the Arizona industrial commission in September 2010, and his claim was referred to the commission’s special fund division because Porteadores did not have an Arizona workers comp policy.

The Mexican agency granted disability benefits to Mr. Valenzuela, but declined to pay $17,000 in medical bills from a doctor in Mexico who was outside the agency’s medical network, according to court filings. An Arizona administrative law judge later found that Mr. Valenzuela was entitled to receive “medical, surgical and hospital” benefits from the Arizona special fund, including the unpaid medical bills in Mexico.

The judge also found that the special fund was entitled to a credit for benefits that were already paid to Mr. Valenzuela by the Mexican agency, records show.

Porteadores argued on appeal that requiring a foreign employer to comply with Arizona workers comp law violated U.S. law, and that the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Foreign Commerce Clause pre-empted Arizona workers comp law, records show. But a three-judge panel of the Arizona appellate court unanimously affirmed the administrative judge’s ruling last year.

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