Indiana has Jurisdiction over ADA Claim Against Out-of-State Employer

September 20, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - An Indiana federal court has ruled that it has jurisdiction over a resident's claim that his Florida-based employer fired him in an effort to avoid picking up his wife's health costs.

>Justin Tracy, who worked in Indiana for the Florida-based company, Financial Insurance Management Corp. (FIMC), was fired the day after inquiring about health benefits for his wife, who had attempted suicide and needed to be admitted to a stress center. He sued the company for wrongful termination under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Section 510. Tracy also claimed that FIMC violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by terminating his employment because of his wife’s disability of obsessive compulsive disorder and depression.

>FIMC, in asking for a dismissal, had claimed that Indiana had no jurisdiction over it because the ADA does not provide for a nationwide service of process, and thus the court did not have personal jurisdiction over the entire lawsuit. ERISA, on the other hand, does have a nationwide service of process. FIMC had conceded that the court would have jurisdiction over this part of the case.

>In his decision, US Magistrate Tim Baker of the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana refused to dismiss the case, claiming his court had personal jurisdiction over the ADA because that part of the case rose out of the same nucleus of facts that make up his ERISA case.

“The Court finds that ERISA’s nationwide service of process allows the Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over FIMC. Moreover, under the doctrine of pendent personal jurisdiction, the Court exercises personal jurisdiction over FIMC with respect to the remaining claims in Tracy’s complaint,” Baker said in his decision. “Accordingly, FIMC’s motion to dismiss is denied.”

>A complete copy of the decision can be seen at http://207.41.16.152/opinions/AN6190O1.PDF .

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