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Injured undocumented worker due comp benefits

Posted On: Jan. 27, 2017 2:42 PM CST


A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed an insurer’s request to forgo payment of workers compensation benefits for an undocumented landscaper’s injury.

The worker had been hired to work for Peconic, New York-based Natural Images Landscaping Inc. when he suffered an injury to his neck on May 7, 2015 while assisting in the removal of a tree, according to the ruling on Tuesday.

According to court documents, NorGuard Insurance Co. provided workers comp to Natural Images but sought a declaratory judgment that it wasn’t obligated to pay medical expenses, indemnity payments or comp benefits because he had entered the U.S. illegally.

The insurer also canceled the employer’s policy and asserted charges of “fraud and civil conspiracy” against both the worker and the employer, which was accused by NorGuard of failing to disclose that its employees performed tree trimming and pruning work, along with assigning employees to work at an elevation of 15 feet or more.

U.S. District Judge Denis R. Hurley for the Eastern District of New York dismissed the insurer’s claims on Tuesday against the worker and the motion for default judgment filed against the landscaping company, and granted the landscaping firm’s subsequent motion for dismissal. 

“Assuming that (the worker) violated the various immigration and tax laws as alleged, (NorGuard) simply does not ‘fall within the zone of interests protected by law invoked,’” the ruling reads. “Such violations are the concern of the Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security, and like agencies.”