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Youngquist Brothers Oil & Gas, Inc. v. Miner

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

February 21, 2017

Youngquist Brothers Oil & Gas, Inc., Petitioner
v.
Travis Miner and the Industrial Claim Appeals Office of the State of Colorado. Respondents

         Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals Court of Appeals Case No. 15CA1165

         Judgment Reversed

          Attorneys for Petitioner: Treece Alfrey Musat P.C. James B. Fairbanks Kathleen M. Byrne Denver, Colorado

          Attorneys for Respondent Travis Miner: Killian Davis Richter & Mayle, P.C. Damon J. Davis Christopher H. Richter Grand Junction, Colorado

          Attorneys for Respondent Industrial Claim Appeals Office of the State of Colorado: Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General Evan P. Brennan, Assistant Attorney General Denver, Colorado

          RICE CHIEF JUSTICE

         ¶1 This case requires us to determine whether Colorado has jurisdiction to award benefits for out-of-state work-related injuries and impose a statutory penalty on an employer under section 8-41-204, C.R.S. (2016), when the employer is not a citizen of Colorado and has no offices or operations in Colorado, but hired a Colorado citizen within the state. We hold that on the facts presented here, Colorado lacks personal jurisdiction over the employer.[1]

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         ¶2 Respondent Travis Miner was a resident of Colorado when a friend told him that Petitioner Youngquist Brothers Oil & Gas, Inc. ("Youngquist"), a North Dakota corporation, was looking for employees to work on its oil rigs in North Dakota. On the morning of December 23, 2013, from his home in Colorado, Miner applied online for a job as a derrickhand for Youngquist. That afternoon, a representative from Youngquist called Miner to conduct a phone interview. Miner was hired during the call, and the representative asked if Miner could come to North Dakota the next day. Miner said that he could, and Youngquist then purchased Miner a plane ticket from Grand Junction to North Dakota and e-mailed it to him.

         ¶3 When Miner arrived at the work site on December 24, he completed paperwork, including a W-2 tax withholdings form and an I-9 eligibility for employment form. On the paperwork, Miner indicated his residence was in Grand Junction, Colorado. Once he filled out the paperwork, Miner started working as a derrickhand.

         ¶4 On December 25, during his second shift working for Youngquist, Miner was injured. He did not report the injury right away but eventually reported it on December 29. He then returned to Colorado. Youngquist, which had workers' compensation insurance in North Dakota, reported Miner's injury to North Dakota's workers' compensation agency. North Dakota denied Miner's workers' compensation claim because Miner had a pre-existing back injury, and Miner did not appeal the denial. Miner then sought Colorado workers' compensation benefits, and in October 2014, a Colorado administrative law judge ("ALJ") conducted a hearing.

         ¶5 The ALJ found that Miner had suffered a compensable work-related injury and awarded him benefits. The ALJ also determined that Miner was hired in Colorado and was injured within six months of leaving Colorado, meaning Miner's claim was subject to the Workers' Compensation Act of Colorado ("Act"), sections 8-40-101 to 8-47-209, C.R.S. (2016). The ALJ also imposed a fifty-percent penalty on Youngquist for failing to carry workers' compensation insurance in Colorado, as mandated by the Act. See § 8-43-408(1), C.R.S. (2016).

         ¶6 Youngquist appealed to the Industrial Claim Appeals Office of the State of Colorado which affirmed the ALJ's Order. Then, Youngquist appealed to the court of appeals, arguing that Colorado lacked personal jurisdiction over it and that it therefore was not subject to the Act. The court disagreed and affirmed the ALJ's Order. Youngquist Bros. Oil & Gas, Inc. v. ICAO, 2016 COA 31, ¶¶ 2, 10, P.3d . We granted certiorari. We now reverse the court of appeals.

         II. ...


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