Menu Close

Michael Reynauds, a British citizen, moved to Los Angeles in 2005 to attend business college. In 2007 he accepted a job withTechnicolor as a “global associate.” Technicolor arranged and sponsored a series of temporary work visas for Michael, allowing him to remain in Los Angeles.He married Fiona, also a British citizen and had two daughters.

His work visa was set to expire in a few years, so Michael asked Technicolor, toward the end of 2013, to sponsor him for a green card. Technicolor’s mobility manager, indicating that the company had agreed to sponsor him. However over the following years Technicolor did not process the paperwork on time.

The Reynauds sued Technicolor for negligence, alleging that Technicolor breached its assumed duty of due care “by failing to initiate the green card process” If not for Technicolor’s breach, the Reynauds “would have obtained a green card and would not have been forced to move back to England in the face of deportation proceedings.”

A Los Angeles jury found that Technicolor had been negligent. Judgment was entered in the amount of $803,838.30 for economic damages and $2,083,920 for noneconomic damages, for a total award of $2,887,758.30.

Technicolor appealed, arguing, first, that the verdict is unsupported by substantial evidence and, second, that the damages awarded for emotional distress are, at least in part, barred by workers’ compensation exclusivity. The Court of Appeal disagreed with each of these contentions and affirmed the judgment in the published case of Reynaud v Technicolor Creative Services USA, Inc.

Though not cited by either party, the Court found DerKevorkian v. Lionbridge Technologies, Inc. (10th Cir. 2008) 316 Fed.Appx. 727 [nonpub. opn.] (DerKevorkian), 2008 U.S. App. `Lexis 24566 to be both factually analogous and persuasive on the applicability of workers’ compensation exclusivity to the Reynauds’ claims.

That case also involved a “dispute arising out of an [employer’s] effort to obtain a permanent resident ‘green card’ for a foreign employee”, Isabelle DerKevorkian, in Colorado. Like Michael’s, DerKevorkian’s temporary work visa was set to expire and she needed to obtain a green card to remain in the United States. Her employer, Lionbridge, maintained a program that assisted employees applying for green cards. To participate, DerKevorkian agreed to work for Lionbridge for two years after obtaining the green card and to use an immigration attorney retained by the company. After numerous complications arose, Lionbridge did not file an application to sponsor the green card, and DerKevorkian left the country.

DerKevorkian sued Lionbridge. The case was ultimately tried to a jury, which returned verdicts against Lionbridge on DerKevorkian’s claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and promissory estoppel and awarded noneconomic damages.

As with California, under Colorado law, workers’ compensation is “the exclusive remedy for personal injuries ‘arising out of and in the course of the employee’s employment.’ [Citation.]” On appeal, while the Tenth Circuit agreed with Lionbridge that DerKevorkian’s depression and anxiety were the type of injuries that could be compensable under workers’ compensation, it disagreed that workers’ compensation exclusivity applied because her “injuries did not occur in the course of or arise out of her employment.”

Rather, the court reasoned, DerKevorkian’s injuries “came about because of a completely separate agreement to assist her with her green card application.

The Court of Appeal in Renaud concluded that workers’ compensation exclusivity is inapplicable here for the same reasons.