ILLEGAL ALIEN'S LOST WAGES ARE LIMITED TO WHAT HE COULD HAVE EARNED
IN HIS NATIVE COUNTRY
Sanango v. 200 East 16 Street Housing Corporation, 15 A.D.3d 36, 788
N.Y.S.2d 314 (1st Dept 2004)
Plaintiff, an "undocumented alien," brought this personal injury
action against a work site owner to recover for injuries that he
sustained in a fall from a ladder. The site owner brought a third-
party indemnification action against contractor that had employed
laborer. A Supreme Court, New York County jury verdict awarded
plaintiff $2,452,000 for pain and suffering and $96,000 for lost
earnings. The site owner and contractor appealed.
The Appellate Division held that, "Although we otherwise affirm
plaintiff's judgment, we find that the appeal has merit insofar as it
seeks reversal of the award for lost earnings. It is conceded that
plaintiff is entitled, without regard to his immigration status, to
recover damages for items such as pain and suffering and medical
expenses. The issue presented here, however, is whether, in light of
the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) (8 USC
§ 1324a) and the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court
in Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. NLRB, 535 U.S. 137, 122 S.Ct. 1275,
152 L.Ed.2d 271 , plaintiff's status as an undocumented alien
bars or limits his recovery for lost earnings.
"The clear implication of Hoffman is that a remedy based on the wages
plaintiff might have earned unlawfully in the United States 'would
unduly trench upon explicit statutory prohibitions critical to
federal immigration policy, as expressed in IRCA'."
Defendant's Motions at trial "to exclude plaintiff's evidence on the
issue of lost earnings should have been granted to the extent of
limiting the evidence admissible on that issue to proof of the wages
that, but for his injuries, plaintiff would have been able to earn in
his country of origin. Accordingly, we vacate the award for lost
earnings, and remand for a new trial, consistent with this opinion,
solely on that issue."