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Indiana Supreme Court grants transfer in injured immigrant worker's case

October 24, 2016

The Indiana Supreme Court will decide if an undocumented Mexican immigrant who was injured on the job in Indiana should receive compensation based on wages for his job in the United States or based on wages for the same job in Mexico.

The state’s high court granted transfer in the case of Noe Escamilla v. Shiel Sexton Company, Inc., 54S01-1610-CT-546, last week after the Indiana Court of Appeals declined to revisit its March 2016 ruling that Noe Escamilla’s immigration status is necessary evidence in figuring out how much money he should receive after an on-the-job injury.  

Escamilla, an undocumented immigrant, was working as a mason subcontractor on a project overseen by general contractor Shiel Sexton. After he was injured on the job site, Escamilla sued Shiel Sexton for medical expenses, lost wages and future income.

But Shiel Sexton’s attorney argued that because Escamilla was a lawful resident of Mexico, any lost wages claims should be based on the rate of pay in his home country. In its March opinion, the Court of Appeals noted that one of Escamilla’s expert witnesses had failed to take into account his undocumented immigration status when estimating the wages he could have earned in the United States had he not been injured, thus leading to its decision to reverse the admission of the expert’s report as evidence.

Arguments are scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 22.

The Supreme Court also granted transfer in the case of Mary K. Patchett v. Ashley N. Lee and wrote in a Friday opinion that the admission of evidence of reduced health care payments in personal injury suits could be extended to include reimbursements from government payers, reversing an earlier opinion from the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Finally, the justices granted transfer in the case of CHINS: G.J. and J.J. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 02S03-1610-JC-548 after the Court of Appeals dismissed the case with prejudice in July, citing a lack of jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court denied transfer to 22 cases for the week ending Oct. 21. The complete list of transfer dispositions can be viewed here.

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