Jurisdiction determined to be inappropriate with the Utah Labor Commission once Petitioner initiated the workers’ compensation process in Colorado.

The ALJ in this matter made findings that Petitioner was initially hired by Respondent, Atlas Van Lines in 1995 as a truck driver. In 2004, Petitioner became an owner operator for the same company. Petitioner delivered and carried goods throughout the continental United States as well as Canada. At the time of hearing, Petitioner was licensed in 48 states as well as provinces in Canada. Further, Petitioner was currently living in the State of Colorado and had for the previous twelve years.  Petitioner’s truck was located in San Diego, California, and Respondent, Atlas Van Lines was based in Indiana.

On January 10, 2019 Petitioner came to a storage facility in Roy, Utah. Petitioner slipped on a patch of ice in the parking lot, injuring his left knee. Petitioner received all medical treatment in Colorado. The claim was dealt with and proceeded pursuant to the workers’ compensation laws in Colorado. A controversy arose after an Independent Examination was conducted by Dr. Farber, who determined that much of the medical care sought by Petitioner was not related to the industrial incident. Petitioner then filed an application for hearing with the Utah Labor Commission, rather than proceeding with the claim in Colorado. In their answer, Respondents raised the defense that jurisdiction was inappropriate in Utah, and that Petitioner should be required to proceed forward with any controversy in Colorado.

At hearing, Respondents presented evidence that Petitioner received a substantial amount of medical treatment in Colorado. Further, Respondents offered into evidence an acknowledgement letter addressed to Petitioner in Colorado from the third party administrator, a General Admission of Liability form for the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment Division of Workers’ Compensation, a document showing the amounts paid by the Respondent Insurer for Petitioner’s medical care in Colorado, and relevant Colorado statutes.

The court ultimately agreed with Respondents and dismissed the claim in Utah.  The court first analyzed Utah Code Ann. § 34A-2-406, stating “a nonresident worker injured in Utah may obtain workers’ compensation benefits if he meets the circumstances set forth by the Legislature . . . . However, § 406(1)’s objective is to exempt certain non-residents if all of its conditions are met.” The court determined that because (1) workers’ compensation insurance coverage was furnished under the laws of Colorado; (2) the workers’ compensation insurance coverage covered Petitioner while in Utah; (3) Colorado’s statutory exemption language found in C.R.S. 8-41-212 shows the extraterritorial provision of Utah’s workers’ compensation laws are recognized in Colorado, and employers and employees who are covered in Utah are likewise exempted from the application of the workers’ compensation or similar laws of Colorado; and (4) where the evidence showed Colorado had already accepted Petitioner’s workers’ compensation claim, Petitioner and the Respondent employer were exempt from the Utah Workers’ Compensation Act.  As such, the Utah Labor Commission lacked jurisdiction and the case was dismissed.

Michael Shea v. Atlas Van Lines and/or Arch Insurance Co, Case No. 19-0691 (April 20, 2020)

Would you like to know more?  Contact Christin Bechmann at cbechmann@pollartmiller.com or Jeffrey Callister at jcallister@pollartmiller.com  or 877-259-5693.