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Hassan v. Trident Seafoods and Liberty Mutual Insurance

Supreme Court of Nebraska

January 11, 2019

Abdi Hassan, appellant,
v.
Trident Seafoods and Liberty Mutual Insurance, its workers' compensation insurer, appellees.

         1. Workers' Compensation: Appeal and Error. An appellate court is obligated in workers' compensation cases to make its own determinations as to questions of law.

         2. ___: ___. Determinations by a trial judge of the Workers' Compensation Court will not be disturbed on appeal unless they are contrary to law or depend on findings of fact that are clearly wrong in light of the evidence.

         3. Workers' Compensation: Jurisdiction: Statutes. As a statutorily created court, the Workers' Compensation Court is a tribunal of limited and special jurisdiction and has only such authority as has been conferred on it by statute.

         4. Workers' Compensation: Employer and Employee: Statutes. Under the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act, in most compensation cases, there must be at least one statutory employer and one statutory employee for the compensation court to acquire jurisdiction.

         5. Workers' Compensation: Employer and Employee: Statutes: Words and Phrases. For the purpose of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act, the terms "employer" and "employee" are not words of common understanding, but, rather, of statutory definition.

          Appeal from the Workers' Compensation Court: Thomas E. Stine, Judge.

          Travis Allan Spier, of Atwood, Holsten, Brown, Deaver & Spier Law Firm, PC, L.L.O., for appellant.

         [302 Neb. 45] Robert Kinney-Walker, of Law Office of James W. Nubel, for appellees.

          Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Funke, Papik, and Freudenberg JJ.

          Miller-Lerman, J.

         NATURE OF CASE

         On July 21, 2015, appellant Abdi Hassan sustained a work-related injury in the course of his employment with appellee Trident Seafoods at Trident Seafoods' Alaska plant. Hassan was a Nebraska resident when he was hired by Trident Seafoods, a State of Washington corporation without a permanent presence in Nebraska. Although Hassan received certain benefits in Alaska, he later filed a petition in the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court. The sole issue before us is whether the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court correctly determined that it lacked jurisdiction and dismissed his claim. Because we agree with the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court that Trident Seafoods was not a statutory employer subject to the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act, we affirm.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS

         Hassan resided in Lexington, Nebraska, and worked as a meat trimmer at a meat processing plant. In 2015, Hassan learned from a friend that Trident Seafoods was hiring and, with the friend's help, he completed an online application. He then attended an in-person recruitment event hosted by Trident Seafoods at a hotel conference facility in Omaha, Nebraska. Trident Seafoods rented conference space for the event, and Hassan met and interviewed with several of Trident Seafoods' employees. Trident Seafoods did not employ workers in Nebraska year round, but it sent a recruitment team to Nebraska to recruit seasonal workers ...


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