Noe Escamilla, Illegal Immigrant Suing over Workplace Injury, Loses Appeal

Noe Escamilla via Indy Star

An Indiana appeals court has ruled against an illegal immigrant who was permanently injured on the job in Indianapolis.

The illegal immigrant was suing to recover the wages and other benefits he lost after his injury, even though, as a non-citizen without a visa or green card, he shouldn’t have been employed in the first place.

The illegal immigrant, Noe Escamilla, sued to recover his lost wages but filed another motion insisting that his immigration status should play no part in his case. Now, an appeals court has denied that portion of his bid in a 2-to-1 vote, ruling that his immigration status is a relevant factor.

Escamilla, claimed he slipped and fell in 2010 while trying to lifting a heavy piece of stone at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He then claimed doctors told him he could never lift more than 20 pounds. Escamilla then sued the Indianapolis-based construction and maintenance company Shiel Sexton Co., saying his injuries prevented him from earning a living.

The illegal worker also signed onto the job using stolen Social Security information, but the company never verified the information he supplied before hiring him.

Since his injury, the man feels he should be compensated for his loss at American wage rates. Some legal experts, though, say he should only recover the lost wages at the rate workers in Mexico might make — if he recovers any wages at all. His motion to exclude his immigration status, now denied, was aimed at making sure he could recover his wages at American rates.

The 29-year-old Escamilla tried to take his claims to court earlier, but a Montgomery County Superior Court judge ruled that, because he is not legally able to work in the U.S., he could not claim any lost money and benefits at all. The judge based her decision in part on the fact that Escamilla violated federal law by misrepresenting his immigration status on his job application.

Escamilla has taken his case to the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse Judge Heather Dennison’s earlier ruling denying his claims.

The latest appeals court ruling means Escamilla’s immigrations status can now be introduced in the appeal for his wages claim and could reduce his claim to the wages earned in Mexico at best or cause the court to again deny is claims altogether.

The rest of his appeal is still before the court.

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