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Immigrant rights center to appeal court ruling

CC0 1.0 Universal

The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center is fighting a policy that denies injury benefits to undocumented workers. It is specifically claiming its own damages in this case

The Michigan Court of Appeals has dismissed lawsuits challenging a state policy that denies on-the-job injury benefits to many undocumented workers.

The two lawsuits challenge a state law and an earlier court decision. The Court of Appeals ruled the public interest law firm representing workers missed critical deadlines to file the cases.

The unanimous three-judge panel agreed with the state’s motion to dismiss the case filed by the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. The appeals court said in its opinion the law center missed the one-year deadline to file its complaint.

“Because plaintiff did not file notice of intent to file its claim or file its complaint within a year of the accrual of its claims, plaintiff’s complaint must be dismissed,” it said. The decision was not published, which means the court considers the decision based on settled law, rather than precedent-setting.

The center is fighting a policy that denies injury benefits to undocumented workers, but in this case, it is specifically claiming its own damages because it had to hire more personnel in 2019 and was forced to drain resources to deal with a flood of requests for help.

John Philo, the attorney representing the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, said the strain on the center is ongoing so it has not blown past the deadline.

“If the violation is occurring today, and then the same violation occurs tomorrow, the same violation occurs a month from now or two years from now, what the court has decided is that the timeliness is determined solely by that initial violation,” he told Michigan Public Radio.

Philo said the deadline in this case leaves the main issues unresolved, which he says are violations of due process and equal protection rights at an often-steep cost to injured workers.

“In other words, they cannot get compensated like every other worker who’s injured on the job for their lost time from work,” he said.

Philo said he intends to appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.

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